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Princeton on high alert after possibly rabid raccoon attacks 2 people

Princeton University on high alert after possibly rabid raccoon attacks two people
Princeton University on high alert after possibly rabid raccoon attacks two people 00:29

PRINCETON, N.J. (CBS) -- The Princeton Health Department is warning residents and Princeton University students to keep an eye out after two attacks in close succession by a raccoon (or raccoons) that may have rabies.

The first occurred near the Dillon Gym on Princeton's campus around 8:45 p.m. Monday.

The health department said a student was attacked by a raccoon exhibiting common behaviors typical of a rabies infection, including chirping noises and unprovoked aggression.

The student received post-exposure treatment after the incident. The second attack came less than 12 hours later.

Officials warn rabid raccoon may be loose in Princeton, NJ 01:50

Officials told CBS News Philadelphia a resident on nearby Hibben Road around 6 a.m. Tuesday was attacked by a raccoon that was sitting on their doormat. They were able to get away without injury.

Students said with the many wooded areas near campus, they're not surprised.

"My friends texted me saying that there was a raccoon attack in front of the gym so to be safe and I live like four minutes away from the gym," junior Hajra Hamid said. 

⚠️ Potentially Rabid Racoon Reported in Princeton ⚠️ Learn more ➡️ Alert ➡️

Posted by Princeton, NJ Government on Tuesday, December 5, 2023

"It's very normal to see a fox running around or a deer running around, especially if you live near Forbes College, which is more on the outskirts of Princeton," sophomore Myky Tran said.

"I think everyone is scared but I don't think it's like 'Oh my gosh, we have to stay away from the raccoon, like we can't go to classes,'" Hamid said. 

Princeton said its animal control officer is working with Princeton University to find the raccoon or raccoons.

Anyone who sees the wild animal should contact police or animal control. Children and pets should be kept away from the animals and pets should be up to date on their shots.

Rabies is rare but can lead to death if untreated. The disease infects the central nervous system and if untreated can affect the brain.

Early symptoms include fever and headache, with some itching or prickling sensation in the area where a patient was bitten or scratched by an infected animal.

Doctors told CBS News that treatment is critical immediately after possible exposure.

Deaths from rabies are rare in the U.S. It is most commonly found in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats.

If you spot an animal that is sick or displaying symptoms of rabies including disorientation and aggression, you are urged to call animal control.

A spokesperson for Princeton sent a statement to CBS News Philadelphia Wednesday afternoon about the raccoon attack:

Last night, an undergraduate student was bitten by a raccoon on the Princeton University campus. While the encounter happened near the Art Museum neighborhood, several other raccoon encounters were also reported in the Municipality of Princeton this morning. The University is in contact with Animal Control from the Municipality of Princeton, who is working to capture the animal. The animal on campus and in the community exhibited behaviors consistent with infection from rabies virus.

If you see or have an encounter with a raccoon on campus, leave the area and contact the Department of Public Safety at 609-258-1000.

Take these steps to protect yourself, your family, and pets from animal encounters:

  • Do not approach, feed, or touch wild or stray animals.
  • Discourage wild animal foraging by not leaving food, including pet food, outside and by securing garbage cans.
  • Make sure your pets and domestic animals are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.
  • If you see a wild animal (i.e. fox, skunk, raccoon), that is sick, injured, orphaned or behaving oddly, leave it alone and contact the Department of Public Safety at 609-258-1000. Do NOT handle the animal yourself. 

For additional information, please visit: 

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