A skunk snuffles along in Bangor in this January 2007 file photo. Credit: Steve Haskell / BDN

Bangor residents are being warned to be wary of furry creatures after a skunk recently tested positive for rabies.

Although raccoons are the most common source of mammal-to-human rabies transmission in Maine, other animals including skunks, foxes and bats can transmit the disease.

The animal found in Bangor was sent to the Maine Center for Disease Control’s rabies lab, which identified that the animal had been infected. A rabid skunk was also discovered in Augusta in March, although no one made contact with the animal.

“Rabies can infect any animal that has hair,” said Tegwin Taylor, wildlife health biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. “In Maine, rabies is endemic in raccoons, so although rabies can infect a variety of wildlife and domestic mammals, raccoons are the most common source for rabies in our area.”

In March this year, a Bowdoinham woman was   attacked inside her residence after a rabid raccoon came into her sun room through a pet door. She was bitten on the leg and underwent treatment after the animal tested positive for rabies.

In one of the state’s most famous cases of rabies infection via raccoon exposure, jogger Rachel Borch in Hope   gained international fame after drowning an attacking animal in a puddle in 2016.

And just two years later,   another rabid raccoon was dispatched in Hope by a resident — this time using a dull bread knife — after the animal attacked his dog.

Animals get and spread rabies through bites and scratches and the saliva from an infected animal comes in contact with mucus membranes like the eyes or open wounds, even tiny ones.

A person can receive a series of rabies shots to prevent severe illness after coming in contact with a rabid animal, and household pets should be kept up to date on their rabies vaccinations.

More information on rabies can be found at the Maine CDC   website.


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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.