Friday, July 23, 2004

D.C. health officials said yesterday they have identified another Mount Pleasant resident who may have come in contact with a rabid raccoon, but they are confident they have contained a possible outbreak of rabies in humans.

“We saturated the neighborhood,” said Dr. Walter Faggett, interim chief medical officer for the D.C. Department of Health.

Health officials identified two potential victims Thursday, after receiving a report about a raccoon Tuesday night in the 2500 block of 17th Street NW so sluggish that children were pelting it with stones. Somebody then put a noose on the animal to protect it from the stone throwers.

Officials suspected the animal was rabid because raccoons normally are too quick to be caught by humans.

Lab tests Wednesday confirmed the 1-year-old male raccoon was infected with rabies.

Officials then began combing the neighborhood for people who might have come in contact with the rabid animal. They determined that two to six persons were at risk.

Dr. Faggett said at least one of the three possible victims has declined treatment because he doesn’t like shots.

Dr. Faggett said the Health Department used Spanish-speaking canvassers in the largely Hispanic neighborhood, but officials still were not certain whether they had found everybody who had come in contact with the raccoon.

He also said 10 pets, most of them dogs, have been vaccinated.

The Health Department is holding a free rabies vaccination clinic from 1 to 3 p.m. today at H.D. Cooke Elementary School, 2525 17th St. NW.

Health officials suspect other rabid raccoons are in the area, and they are working with the National Park Service to trap animals for testing.

“You really need to find out if there are others out there,” Dr. Faggett said.

The virus has a 14-to-20-day incubation period.

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