A juvenile raccoon is seen in this 2019 file photo. Credit: Courtesy Augusta Fire Department

A Maine woman who brought a young raccoon into a Petco may have exposed a number of people to rabies.

The woman, who has not been identified, brought the raccoon into the Auburn Petco at around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. 

While the woman was waiting to inquire about services for the animal, several people reportedly touched and kissed the raccoon. The woman was asked to leave the store, and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Maine Warden Service were contacted.

Raccoons are a common vector of rabies, and MDIF&W officials advise anyone who came in contact with the animal to contact their personal health care provider.

Earlier 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 had to undergo treatment after the animal tested positive for rabies.

At least a dozen raccoons tested positive for rabies after coming into contact with humans in 2022. The state had an estimated population of more than 120,000 of the animals from Kittery to Fort Kent when a count was conducted in 1996. 

Anyone with information about the woman with the raccoon is encouraged to contact the Maine Warden Service at 1-800-452-4664. Anyone with questions about rabies exposures can contact the Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that raccoons are the leading cause of animal-to-human rabies infections. This story has been revised.

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.