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Rabid raccoon bites woman in Hope

A raccoon, that later tested positive for rabies, bit a woman out for a run in Hope on June 2 (WGME).

HOPE (WGME) – A woman out for a run in Knox County runs right into a rabid raccoon.

Rachel Borch, of Hope, tells CBS 13 she was running on a trail near her home on June 2 when she saw a raccoon charging at her with its teeth bared. She says she tried to avoid it, but knew it was going to bite her, so she held out her hands and it latched onto her thumb.

She was able to have the presence of mind to notice a puddle in a swampy area off the trail. Borch grabbed the raccoon, still biting down on her thumb, and held its head underwater until it died. She was then able to run for help.

“She was phenomenal,” said Hope Animal Control Officer Heidi Blood. “I don't know if I would've been able to keep my composure and handle the situation the way she did.”

Blood says Borch’s family handled it well, too. While she went to the hospital to start treatment for rabies exposure, her dad and brother went back for the dead raccoon so it could get tested for rabies.

“Rabies will generally not live in a dead animal more than 24 hours,” Blood said.

Blood says the Maine CDC sent her a notice that the raccoon tested positive for rabies. She credits the Borch family’s quick-thinking for helping to prevent vulnerable pets or other people on the trail from getting hurt, too.

“They did everything perfectly,” Blood said.

The Maine CDC reports 20 cases of rabies so far this year. The raccoon in Hope would bring that number to 21.

Blood says this serves as a good reminder that all pet cats and dogs are required by law to have a rabies vaccine.

“It’s 100 percent fatal if left untreated,” Blood said.

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