Rabid raccoon attacks victim at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Published: Mar. 10, 2015 at 3:35 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 20, 2015 at 5:51 PM EDT
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Notification posted at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (Source: NBC12)
Notification posted at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (Source: NBC12)
Rabies attack scene at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (Source: NBC12)
Rabies attack scene at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (Source: NBC12)

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Authorities in Henrico are confirming their first positive case of rabies for 2015. Animal protection responded Saturday after reports of a raccoon attacking a woman in the 1800 block of Lakeside Avenue, at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

The raccoon came out of the woods and attacked the victim, scratching and biting her leg. The victim was able to fight off the raccoon, which later died and tested positive for rabies. 

"I was looking at birds up in a tree and when I looked down, it was in front of me and it was extremely aggressive. Grabbed a hold of my pant leg and bit me at the same time," Cas Overton said.
It was at that moment when the former Tai Chi instructor quickly grabbed the rabid animal. 
"I was able to get a hold of it by the neck and I had to throttle it to death, it was horrible," Overton said. 

It was happened in a section of the garden that is completely off the map, where a woman was bitten by a rabid raccoon. Park administrators say that it is important that people remember to be cautious when they come across wild animals.

"The garden is an outdoor venue, so just as around our homes and parks anywhere that we might go that would be out of doors, it is always good to be alert to any wildlife that might be acting suspiciously," Beth Monroe with Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden said.
Signs are now posted in the visitors center letting people know about the incident. Staff is also being trained to alert people about wild-life in the Gardens.

Statistics from the Virginia Department of Health show that a total of 7 rabid animals were found in Henrico County last year. Two of those were raccoons.

As for Overton, she is getting post-exposure treatment which includes the rabies vaccine. She also warns others to be alert when walking in the wild. 

"Don't be taken by surprise like I was," Overton said.
The woman was treated at the hospital for her injuries and was given a rabies vaccine.The section of the Botanical Garden where the attack happened is closed off.

Report abnormal wildlife behavior to Henrico Police by calling 501-5000. 

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