FAIRFIELD — Town officials are warning the public to keep pet vaccinations up-to-date after a raccoon tested positive for rabies two weeks ago in the area of Old Main Street near downtown Fairfield.

Animal Control Officer David Huff notified the town of the incident March 11, according to a news release from Police Chief Thomas Gould. Police officers were asked by the Maine Warden Service to go to the area, where they found an aggressive raccoon that had been fighting with a domestic cat.

Officer Matt Wilcox shot and killed the raccoon, Huff said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

The animal was taken immediately to the state Department of Health and Human Services health and environmental testing laboratory in Augusta, where it tested positive for rabies.

Huff found the cat, and it was placed in quarantine for 45 days.

Rabies is a disease that is caused by a virus, according to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It affects the brain and spinal cord and can cause death if left untreated. Rabies in people is rare in the United States, but rabies in animals — especially wildlife — is common in most parts of the country, including Maine.

It is spread when a rabid animal bites or scratches a person or animal, or when a rabid animal’s saliva or neural tissue comes in contact with a person or animal’s mouth, nose or eyes, or enters a cut in the skin, according to the agency’s website. Rabies is not spread by petting or touching dried saliva, blood, urine, or feces of a rabid animal. The most commonly infected animals are skunks, raccoons, bats and foxes.

Huff said there were cases of rabies last year in Clinton and Burnham, towns that he also covers. He said there has been only one case of rabies in Fairfield so far this year, but as the weather turns warm, wild animals will start to come out.

“I just wanted to let the public know that it was down there,” he said. “There’s a chance that if there’s one, there’s more than one. One raccoon’s got it and there could be a skunk in the area that’s got it . You never know. That, and they’re coming out from hibernation in the spring. Just make sure your pets have their rabies shots and they are up-to-date.”

Anyone who sees an animal suspected of having rabies is asked to call Fairfield police at 453-9321.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow


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