A Bowdoinham woman was attacked by a rabid raccoon inside her home on Monday, and officials are warning locals to keep an eye out for wildlife showing signs of the virus.

Bowdoinham Animal Control Officer Cliff Daigle said the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was inside her home in the area of Wilderness Lane and Pratt Road when a raccoon wandered through her sunroom door and attacked. The raccoon bit the woman on her leg as she tried to fend it off and keep it away from her household pets.

Game Warden Bob Decker responded, killed the animal and took it away for testing. An animal must be dead in order to test for rabies because the test requires brain tissue. He received confirmation Wednesday that the raccoon was rabid. The woman is now receiving medical treatment, he said.

Daigle said there are at least two other raccoons in the Bowdoinham area he believes could be infected with the rabies virus. He said the most common symptom is aggression, and all three raccoons showed evidence of being in fights with other animals — which is not typical of a raccoon. He said two raccoons, including the one captured, had porcupine quills embedded in their faces, and the third raccoon had been sprayed by a skunk.

Rabies is a virus that spreads primarily through bites from an infected animal. The virus attacks the brain, leading to a fever, convulsions, hallucinations, paralysis and, most notably, abnormal aggression.

Rabies is almost always lethal if not treated before symptoms show up. The rabies vaccine is extremely effective in preventing infection if received before or soon after a bite. As a result, cases of rabies among humans in the U.S. are exceedingly rare, with one or two fatalities per year, usually from people who didn’t receive treatment after a bite.


To prevent further incidents in Bowdoinham, Daigle said the town has alerted local schools, bus drivers and residents of the rabies threat.

Maine has seen a decrease in rabies cases over the past three years, following a partnership between the Maine CDC and the USDA Wildlife Services, which distributed 385,000 oral rabies vaccines in northern parts of the state in July 2020.

In 2020, there were 71 reported rabies cases in 14 of Maine’s 16 counties. The infected animals included bats, raccoons, striped skunks, grey foxes, red foxes and feral cats. That number dropped 14% in 2021 and dropped another 43% in 2022, according to a rabies report from the Maine CDC.

There have only been four documented cases of rabies this year, three in Cumberland County and one in Androscoggin County.

The town of Bowdoinham is asking residents to stay vigilant and to call the Maine Warden Services in Augusta at 1-800-452-4664 if they come across a possibly infected animal.

For more information, visit bowdoinham.com/animal-control.

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