DAVENPORT, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s a moment that left its mark on a Polk County teenager. Damian Ransom will never forget how quickly a rabid raccoon reacted to his good Samaritan efforts in trying to save the sick animal.
“He was fast,” Ransom recalled.
His grandmother is still shocked and is now warning other moms and dads around Tampa Bay and beyond.
“Please, tell them, don’t touch wildlife ever. Call someone who’s a professional,” she told 8 on your Side. “Please!”
Her 15-year-old grandson was bitten by a sick raccoon last week in Davenport.
“I thought he was kidding because he texted, ‘Ha ha, I got bit by a raccoon.’ He thought it was funny at first,” she said. “I actually panicked.”
The raccoon left bite marks on both sides of the teen’s left index finger. When asked what it felt like, he answered, “Painful.”
The animal bit twice, shocking the teen with the speed in which it reacted.
“Yeah, it was very surprising. I was shocked at how fast it was,” said Ransom. “I was dripping blood, one side of my finger, considering how young the animal was.”
The teenager said he thought he was doing a good deed.
He wanted to help the sick animal out of the job, never knowing it had rabies.
“I thought he was hurt, like broke a leg or something. He was having trouble walking,” he said. “I was just trying to help.”
The sheriff’s office says its animal control unit was called to the Providence neighborhood located in Davenport.
His grandmother acted quickly, fearing the worst.
“I’m thinking rabies. This is really, really bad,” she said, recalling how she rushed him to the nearest emergency room.
She told 8 On Your Side that she and her grandson would end up making multiple trips to multiple hospitals, claiming that there’s a shortage of rabies vaccine on hand.
“They told us it was on back-order,” she remarked.
The teen’s grandmother said he’s got to endure up to 14 shots in various parts of his body, including his arms, thigh, backside and finger. At this point, there are roughly six more to go.
“It was really cute, but that’s the sad part. It’s really cute, but don’t touch them,” she said.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office told 8 On Your Side this is the 10th confirmed case of rabies in Polk County this year – five bats and five raccoons.
“It is imperative that children are told to avoid animals like bats, raccoons and foxes out in the wild. And let me be clear – these animals are wildlife,” Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement. “If you see one in distress, leave it alone and contact Polk County Animal Control immediately.”
Authorities sent the raccoon to the state laboratory in Tampa to be tested. Two days later, it was confirmed the raccoon had rabies.
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