Rabid Skunk Attacks Toddler in Massachusetts, Mother Kicks It to Get It Off: 'We Were Screeching'

A two-year-old Massachusetts girl was attacked by a rabid skunk in the backyard of her Weymouth home on Monday, according to reports.

The family of Fatima Bennette were having a barbecue when they say an aggressive skunk entered their property

"The children were playing in the yard and all of a sudden, Adam screamed and said there's a skunk and I look and I saw there was a skunk," Bennette's mother, Mai Elkhouly, told Boston 25 News.

According to the family, the victim's grandmother Betty Bennette hit the skunk with a toy in an attempt to scare it off. However, she was unable to prevent it from attacking the toddler and biting her leg.

"She was hysterical as we all were. We were screeching," Betty Bennette told CBS Boston. "The skunk was hanging from her leg."

The family tried to distract the animal so that it would let go of the two-year-old. But it only released the girl from its jaws after Elkhouly kicked it. The family then called 911 and the Weymouth Fire Department arrived to help capture the skunk, which did not want to give itself up without a fight.

"It took a while. The skunk kept coming at the firemen. They said it would not give up. They were spraying it directly in the face [with a fire extinguisher] and it kept coming at them," Betty Bennette said.

After the ordeal, the firefighters killed the animal as they said it was likely rabid. Thankfully, the victim of the attack only suffered minor cuts and scratches—which doctors treated at a local hospital.

The animal tested positive for rabies so doctors have started her on a full series of shots to prevent infection occurring.

"[The treatment will] be completed on the 23rd and we're looking forward to her having completed all her rabies shots now," Betty Bennette said. "It was such a freak incident, I'm hoping I never have that encounter again."

Rabies is a serious viral disease that affects the brain and spinal cord of mammals. The disease can be spread through the bite of an infected animal or saliva containing the virus entering scratches, wounds, the eyes, nose, mouth or other breaks in the skin.

People who are exposed to the virus must receive a rabies shot as soon as possible to prevent infection. Once symptoms occur, the disease is almost always fatal.

In Massachusetts, the animals that most commonly carry rabies are raccoons, skunks, bats, woodchucks and foxes, although sometimes pets and farm animals do become infected. Since 1992, more than 5,000 animals have tested positive for the disease in the state, according to the state government.

In people, rabies infections are very rare in the U.S., with only one to three cases reported annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

skunk
Stock photo: A skunk. iStock
Rabid Skunk Attacks Toddler in Massachusetts, Mother Kicks It to Get It Off: 'We Were Screeching' | U.S.