(CMR) The Department of Agriculture is reminding the public to be vigilant in its search for a raccoon that remains on the loose after escaping from a grocery store container in West Bay on Friday. They are urgently trying to locate him to determine if he has rabies. The other raccoon, a juvenile male was euthanized.
A large number of traps have been set and deployed but there have been no further sightings since Friday.
In explaining its decision to destroy the one in captivity DoA noted that its first priority is to safeguard the health of the residents and fauna of the Cayman Islands. It was essential to determine the disease status of the animals and most importantly if they could be carrying the rabies virus.
Samples from the captured raccoon have been sent to the United States for testing and results are pending. It is therefore critical that DoA locates and captures the missing raccoon as quickly as possible to determine its disease status and whether the Islands’ rabies-free status has been in any way compromised.
A diagnosis of rabies can be made after detection of rabies virus from any part of the affected brain, but in order to rule out rabies, the test must include tissue from at least two locations in the brain, preferably the brain stem and cerebellum. The test requires that the animal be euthanized.