Trapped raccoon tests positive for rabies; Fairfax County trails reopen after attacks earlier in the

A raccoon trapped near a Fairfax County walking path where two people were bitten earlier this week has tested positive for rabies.

Officials say they captured the animal near Monarch Oak Lane and Oak Hollow Lane Wednesday night.

The animal was making noises and walking strangely when it rushed an Animal Control officer who captured it without injury.

Animal Control officials say they feel the trapped raccoon is the same one responsible for the recent attacks.

All trails at the South Run Rec Center, including the one where the attacks occurred, are back open.

Warnings were issued to residents after the recent attacks. Raccoon tracks were still visible Wednesday along a creek near South Run Rec Center where a 75-year-old woman was attacked during her morning walk earlier this week.

Officials said the woman stopped to take a photo of the animal when it charged her.

"It bit her severely on her right leg and it attacked both of her hands and her forearms," said Fairfax County Animal Control Sgt. Mary Zambrano.

Her bloody hand prints mark the railing along the footbridge. The raccoon eventually ran off and two joggers came to her aide. An ambulance took the victim to the hospital to be treated for rabies exposure.

"If there is an animal that is vocalizing, whether it is whimpering, crying, that is wet or heavily matted, that might have an obvious injury or bite wound, a lot of times they will act like they are drunk and disoriented and they will stagger around -- those are classic symptoms of an animal that might have rabies," said Sgt. Zambrano.

The attack happened on the trail not far from the Lee Chapel Road overpass between Burke Lake and South Run parks where children play just steps from the woods.

Just a few miles away in the Kings Park area, a man out gardening on Sunday was viciously attacked by a raccoon which later tested positive for rabies.

While it is not uncommon to spot raccoons, even during the daytime, residents are asked to look for signs that any area wildlife may be sick.

"They are attracted to movement and to noise," said Zambrano. "If you have the ability to take a big step back and turn and run, you definitely want to get away from the animal. But if it is right there at your feet … you can use your shoes to protect yourself and kick it away from you and leave as quickly as possible."

Falls Church has also issued a rabies alert after a spike in raccoon attacks in the city. Police say a rabid raccoon was euthanized after an attack on two dogs on June 4 in the 100 block of E. Jefferson Street.

For more information about rabies and what to do if an animal bites you, go to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd/rabies.

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