ARLINGTON (CBS) — The Arlington Health Department is warning residents after two children and an adult were bitten by a rabid raccoon over the weekend.

It happened in the Morningside section of town but officials say reports of sick animals have been received in all parts of town.

Two-year-old Sophia Pancheri was playing in her backyard around 6:00 p.m. on Friday evening, with her mother sitting just feet away, when the animal jumped her fence and went on the attack.

“She yelled then I looked and the raccoon was already on her face,” explains Felisabeth Pancheri. “I just didn’t think that could happen.”

Pancheri screamed, and her father-in-law Louis ran to the rescue. He says the creature was essentially hugging his little granddaughter from behind, sinking its claws into her face and trying to bite her head.

“I kept on kicking him and he kept on showing me his teeth and biting and wanting to jump on me but I just kept on kicking him,” Mr. Pancheri says. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

After about a minute, he was able to pull the raccoon away, but then it climbed a tree and he had to chase it out of the yard with a stick.

Ninety minutes later, there was another attack just up the street. Colleen Lombard was having a party for her son’s baseball team when a ball went behind her shed.

“One of the little boys went to retrieve it and when he went behind the shed he was bitten by the raccoon,” she explains. “The police came and had said there was another bite on the street earlier so you kind of put two and two together.”

That seven-year-old boy will be fine, Lombard says, but will need a full course of rabies shots, as will most of the Pancheri family.

“As the warm weather approaches, it’s vital that we remind our children not to approach or feed wild animals,” said Christine Bongiorno, Director of Health and Human Services for the town. “At the same time, it is equally important that pet owners make sure their cats, dogs, and other pets have up-to-date vaccinations.”

Rabies affects mammals and is spread through the bite and saliva of an infected animal. You cannot tell if an animal has rabies by just looking at it. Infected animals may display erratic behavior, hyper salivation, impaired movement, seem as if “drunk” or paralyzed, or they may seem just fine.

Ways to protect yourself and pets:

The Arlington Police Department and the Department of Health and Human Services urge all residents to take the following precautions to prevent the spread of rabies:
· Vaccinate your pets. State law mandates all dogs, cats and ferrets be vaccinated against rabies. If your pet was previously vaccinated, check with your veterinarian to be sure the vaccination is current.
· Keep your garbage and compost covered at all times. Open garbage and fresh compost will attract wild animals.
· Do not feed or approach any wild animals and remind children to do the same.
· Monitor your young children and pets at all times that they are outdoors
· Immediately report to the Arlington Police Department at 781-643-1212 for:
o Any animal that displays the possible signs of rabies
o Human or pet interactions with wild mammals
o A scratch or bite from a wild or domestic animal

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong contributed to this report.




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