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Raccoon that bit Toronto cop last month not rabid, health officials say

A captured raccoon peers through the bars of a trap in Grand Isle, Vt., on Sept. 27, 2007. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Toby Talbot

Toronto public health says a raccoon that bit a city police officer was not rabid.

Police received a call last Monday from a store owner for a raccoon that “appeared to be in distress and possibly blind,” hanging around a downtown store.

Two officers showed up and tried to corral the raccoon, which is when one officer was bitten in the hand and was taken to hospital to be treated for a minor injury.

Toronto public health said in an email Monday that as of Jan. 4, 2016 all animals, including raccoons, that had been submitted for testing have come back negative for rabies.

Raccoon rabies had been eliminated in Ontario for more than a decade until one tested positive in Hamilton in early December.

Since then, there have been at least nine other cases in the area and the province’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has spread more than 200,000 rabies vaccines in the Hamilton region in an attempt to stem the outbreak.

The re-emergence of rabies only came to light after two dogs got into a fight with a sick raccoon in the back of a Hamilton Animal Services van. The raccoon was euthanized and tests revealed the first rabies case in raccoons since 2005.

There has also been an outbreak in distemper in raccoons in southwestern Ontario, according to the ministry. That illness is also fatal and presents similar symptoms as rabies, but is not transferable to humans.