Rabid raccoon attacks small child in Arlington – The Boston Globe

A young child was attacked by a raccoon in Arlington earlier this week, and town officials are warning residents to keep an eye on their children and pets after announcing Friday that the raccoon had rabies.

Police were called to a home on Franklin Road at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, Arlington Police said in a statement.

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A child under 5 years old was attacked by a large raccoon in the backyard of the home, police said. The child’s mother chased the animal away and called 911.

The child was treated in an ambulance at the scene for bite marks and scratches from the racoon, according to the statement. Police said the child was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, but is expected to be OK.

After failing to find the animal during an initial search of the area near the home, police spotted a lethargic raccoon near Buena Vista Road at 5:40 p.m., police said.

The raccoon appeared to be the same one that attacked the child, according to the statement. Police said they humanely euthanized the raccoon and brought it to a state testing site.

On Friday, the state health department notified Arlington officials that the raccoon had tested positive for rabies, according to police.

“While we do not believe there is any current danger to the community, we wanted to notify residents about this incident so they can be vigilant about protecting their loved ones and pets,” Arlington Police Chief Juliann Flaherty said in the statement.

Residents should report any animals who are acting strangely, keep pets and children away from animals, and ensure pets are vaccinated against rabies to prevent the disease from spreading, officials said.

“Rabies can turn wild animals extremely aggressive toward humans and pets,” Arlington Director of Health and Human Services Christine Bongiorno said in the statement. “It is always important to be sure to never approach or feed wild animals. Keeping your trash covered and not leaving pet food outside of your house can be helpful ways to prevent attracting unwanted wild animals into our neighborhoods.”

Arlington residents who see an animal acting strangely were urged to keep their distance and report it to the Arlington Police Department at 781-643-1212.

Caroline Enos can be reached at caroline.enos@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @CarolineEnos.

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