CONCORD — State health officials are asking for the public’s help to find a Massachusetts man who came in contact with a rabid baby raccoon in Conway.
On Sept. 20, around 5 p.m., officials said this unidentified man stopped to help a New Hampshire resident take two baby raccoons off the road on the outskirts of Conway on Route 16 between North Bald Hill and Thorn Hill roads.
The animals were taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center where one later died and was identified as having been infected with rabies.
“We would like this individual to contact us so that we can assess his risk for acquiring rabies while handling the baby raccoon and to help determine whether he might need treatment to prevent rabies,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, New Hampshire state epidemiologist. “Rabies is a fatal illness that is transmitted through direct contact with the saliva of an infected animal, but administering rabies vaccine and immune globulin after an exposure can prevent disease.”
The Bay State man is described as having a medium build, being in his 30s, standing about 5 feet 8 or 9 inches tall, with very short or shaved light-colored hair.
Officials said the man had tattoos on his arms, was wearing a dark T-shirt and jeans, and was driving a large pickup truck with oversized tires and Massachusetts license plates.
Officials said the truck color could be black, dark blue or dark gray.
This person or anyone with information about him is asked to call the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services’ Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496.
The rabies virus is transmitted through direct contact with saliva from an infected animal. This can occur through a bite, scratch, broken skin or mucous membrane exposure, the latter contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth.
Rabies occurs worldwide and although human infections are extremely rare in the U.S., they do occur when people are scratched or bitten by an infected animal and do not seek treatment.
Close contact with wildlife can spread these diseases to people and pets. Stray domesticated animals should undergo the appropriate veterinary inspection and quarantine to prevent the spread of these diseases when they are rescued or adopted, Chan said.
By law, all dogs, cats, and ferrets should have up-to-date rabies vaccinations. It is highly recommended that certain livestock species also receive rabies vaccination.