National Park Service Recovers Rabid Raccoon, Issues Safety Warning
The National Park Service recovered a dead raccoon near the restroom at Sieur de Monts in Acadia National Park this week, and confirmed that it was infected with rabies, the National Park Service said in a news release Thursday.
The Sieur de Monts area remains open to the public, but visitors should be alert to wildlife that appear sick, aggressive, or uncoordinated, the release said.
The NPS has posted signs in the area, reminding visitors to use caution around wildlife. Visitors should not attempt to approach or feed wildlife, and must keep dogs on a leash no longer than six feet.
Visitors who encounter wildlife that appears sick, aggressive or uncoordinated should immediately report the siting to park dispatch by calling 207-288-8791. In the case of an emergency, visitors should call 911.
Rabies is a disease that is caused by a virus. It affects the brain and spinal cord and can cause death if left untreated. Rabies in people is very rare in the United States, but it is common in wildlife. In Maine, the most commonly infected animals are raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.
The rabies virus lives in the saliva, brain and spinal cord of infected animals. It is spread when a rabid animal bites or scratches a person or animal, or if 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.
Rabies spread to Maine in the mid-1990s, and the first confirmed case of a rabid raccoon on Mount Desert Island was in 2001. Reports of rabid animals have occurred in Maine every year since, but most have not been tested or confirmed.