RI Officials Issue Rabies Warning After Animal Bites Customers

Officials say the two individuals haven't come forward to seek treatment

Two Rhode Island agencies are warning the public of a possible exposure to rabies after a report of an animal biting several customers at a Walmart in Westerly.

Officials from the state Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Management say at least two customers were reportedly bitten by the animal on Monday between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. and it might have been a ferret, mink or weasle.

Officials say the two individuals haven't come forward to seek treatment.

The departments say that anyone who had physical contact with a small black mammal inside or around the store should contact the DOH for an assessment. The animal has not been tested but officials are operating under the assumption that it could have rabies.

The agencies say that once symptoms appear, rabies is fatal in people and animals.

Officials from Walmart released a statement,

"While this is certainly an unusual event, the safety of our customers and associates is always our top priority. Our management team has identified two of the three people who came into contact with this animal and is working with health authorities to identify a third person. We wish each of them a speedy recovery."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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