Scary raccoon attack ends in emergency room - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Scary raccoon attack ends in emergency room

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A Burlington woman was attacked by a raccoon in the Queen City, leaving her with 14 stitches -- and a rabies scare.

Charlene Wallace says it seemed like a normal Saturday filled with chores on Adams Court in Burlington. But things quickly took a turn when she went to unload her car.

"I went out in my driveway to put my snow tires away and I opened the back door of my car to roll them out of the back seat, and suddenly an animal was biting my hand," she said.

Wallace says it all happened so fast she barely had time to react to the raccoon latched onto her hand. "I kind of tried to shake it off, and within a few seconds I think it did come off, and so I turned to run to the back door -- which is only 10 or 12 feet away -- and it jumped up and bit me on the back of my leg and knocked me over," she said.

She says laying on the ground, she kicked and kicked until the animal let go and took off under the porch. "It was scary and in the moment I was terrified, and when it went away I was totally relieved and I ran in the kitchen and I got really clear, really fast, that I had better get to the emergency room as soon as I could," Wallace said.

A neighbor heard her screaming during the attack and took her to the hospital. Wallace says she needed a total of 14 stitches -- five on her leg and the rest on her hands and arms. She was also vaccinated for the real potential of rabies.

"Raccoons don't normally just attack people -- especially when they are un-provoked -- so we worry that the animal could possibly have been rabid, and now it's still out in the community walking around. So we worry that it could possibly attack another human or even attack another animal," said Burlington Police Officer Joseph Corrow.

The Vermont Health Department lists that 13 animals have tested positive for rabies across the state so far in 2014 and all but two were raccoons. Officer Corrow says it is rare for an animal attack like this -- especially in the city. The Burlington Police urge people never to approach wild animals -- and to be alert. "So some symptoms for rabies would be loss of hair; if the animal appears that it can't walk correctly; if it almost appears drunk; if it seems to stagger a lot; if its got what looks like foam coming out of it's mouth -- but really it's just saliva that they are unable to swallow." he said.

As for Wallace, she says she wasn't able to get a good look at the raccoon that attacked her to spot signs of rabies,but was relieved it happened to her and not a neighbor. "If it was rabid, then it could have happened to anyone and I'm glad it wasn't a little kid," she said.

Wallace is recovering well and is back home. She will have to continue rabies vaccines for a couple of weeks.

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