EASTHAMPTON — The city Health Department is warning residents to be wary of rabid animals after one raccoon tested positive for rabies and results are expected on a second one, officials said.
Two people and two pets were exposed to the animals in two separate cases reported on Friday and Monday in the area of East Green and Clark streets, said Health Director Bri Eichstaedt.
Both raccoons were trapped and sent to the Massachusetts rabies lab in Boston.
The first raccoon was confirmed to be rabid, and officials are waiting for results in the second case. Results are not due until Wednesday or Thursday.
Eichstaedt said people are strongly discouraged from handling, feeding or even approaching wildlife, and to keep their pets away. Rabies cases typically occur with raccoons, woodchucks, skunks, bats and foxes. The virus is carried through saliva and can be transmitted through bites or exposure to eyes, the nose or mouth.
Typically, one cannot tell if an animal is rabid or not just by looking at it, she said. Rabid animals may appear to act strangely, can be aggressive, or can act normal, she said.
People who are bitten or scratched by a wild animal or who have a pet bitten or scratched should contact the health department through the non-emergency police line at 413 527-1212.
Pets should also be vaccinated for rabies, she said.