Rabid raccoon found at school

A sick raccoon found on the Coles Elementary School lot Nov. 27 was found to be rabid, the Health Department announced Thursday.

“If you had potential contact with the animal or its saliva you should strongly consider whether to get the rabies shot,” John Meehan, environmental health manager at the Health Department said Thursday.

The “pretty sick-looking animal” which was “dragging its back legs and salivating excessively” was found by some children on the playground, Meehan said.

Prince William County Schools Superintendent Ed Kelly said the animal was dead when the children found it.

“Four kids came up and touched it,” Kelly said. “They identified the four children and they were inoculated.”

Animal control collected the raccoon, which was sent to a state lab for testing. Results came back Tuesday, and school officials were notified. Kelly speculated the raccoon probably came from some of the woods around Coles. Such incidents are “always a concern,” Kelly said Thursday.

Neighbors to Coles Elementary, at 7405 Hoadly Road, east of Manassas, are strongly advised to avoid contact with stray or wild animals. Health Department officials warn not to attempt touching wild animals or killing aggressive animals.

“If an animal looks in distress, call Animal Control,” Meehan advises.

Animal Control can be reached at (703) 792-6465. Questions can be addressed to the Health Department at (703) 792-6300.

Those in the neighborhood who may have come in contact with the raccoon are advised to seek the advice of their physician regarding the rabies inoculation. Meehan said some may have minor reactions to the inoculation, such as slight fever, headache or muscle aches. Rabies shots in use today, however, are safer and easier to take than earlier inoculations, which were injected into the stomach. Shots today are administered into a large muscle, like an arm or leg, Meehan said.

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