Amber Mahaffey heard screams coming from the porch of her Covington, Georgia, home. She ran to investigate and found her 4-year-old son Chandler wrestling with a raccoon.
“My son went outside on the porch. And as he went to walk on the front porch, he started screaming and hollering,” Amber Mahaffey, told FOX 5. “I peeked around the corner and there was a raccoon holding onto him on his hand.”
“They got into a tussle on the floor and he was trying to fight the raccoon off of him, and as he tried to fight him off, the raccoon kept holding on to him and biting repeatedly, so we kicked the raccoon off of him.” Mahaffey said.
The raccoon ran inside the Mahaffey’s home. Amber Mahaffey got a gun and shot the crazed rodent before it could cause any more harm.
“It ran around the house trying to attack everyone,” Mahaffey explained.
She then put little Chandler into her car and raced to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in nearby Egleston, Georgia.
The attack occurred on Thursday, Sept. 13. Little Chandler got his first rabies shot the next day. A treatment regimen takes two weeks in total, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Rabies: Dangerous, Rarely Deadly
Rabies is fairly well controlled in the United States, where dogs a vaccinated for rabies. However, according to KidsHealth, about 50,00 people die from the disease each year—mostly in developing countries. In most countries, where there are no dog vaccination programs, dogs are the primary infection sources.
Untreated, rabies is almost always fatal.
In the United States rabies is usually contracted by a bite from a bat, raccoon, skunk, or fox, but any mammal can carry the disease. Bats infect more people than any other animal, KidsHealth reported, even though raccoons are the most common carriers.
Rabies spreads from the bite site to the brain, where it develops and eventually kills, according to the CDC.
Symptoms start with fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort, progressing to insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, excessive salivation, difficulty swallowing, and fear of water. Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.
Thinning the Raccoon Population
Back in Covington, Georgia, Chandler Mahaffey has several more injections to endure until he is safe. One good thing is that with modern treatment, the vaccine is injected into the patient’s shoulder or thigh, according to the North Dakota Department of Health website.
Up until about 1980, rabies treatment involved 21 very painful injections into the patient’s navel.
Meanwhile, the neighbors are wondering how to respond to the possible presence of more rabid raccoons in the area.
“It makes you nervous a little bit but I’ve lived in the woods all my life,” neighbor Joseph Scroughams told Fox 5.
“I’ve been wanting to get with the neighbors take some shotguns to walk through the woods, three or four of us together.”