LITTLE FALLS, Minn. - A five-month-old baby boy was bitten repeatedly by a rabid skunk in the yard of a licensed daycare home near Little Falls Tuesday.
Morrison County Sheriff's deputies learned that the child was outside in a child lounger bouncer when he was bitten in the face several times and scratched by a skunk.
The infant was in a play area outside the home with several other children and the owner of the child care home.
"They were having a nice day outside, and when she turned around to deal with one of the other kids she heard the baby scream," Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel told KARE.
"And she turned back around and looked and here the skunk was actually was just walking away."
The husband of the child care provider then used a gun to shoot and kill the skunk, as it lumbered toward a shed behind the house.
Deputies took the skunk to a local veterinary clinic, and it was sent to the University of Minnesota where it tested positive for rabies. The Community Animal Hospital in Little Falls has confirmed that the skunk tested positive for rabies.
"The child had what looked to be bites and/or scratches all around its face, and one inside of his mouth," Wetzel explained.
"He got bit a number of times. And it was an unusually large skunk, almost the size of probably a cocker spaniel."
The 5-month-old was treated for bite wounds at hospitals in Little Falls and St. Cloud and will also be treated for exposure to rabies. The child's mother is also being treated for rabies because she came into contact with blood on the baby's face.
Sheriff Wetzel asked the public to take extreme caution around wild animals, and noted that any time a wild animal approaches a person without fear it's a good sign that it may be sick and rabid.
The Minnesota Department of Health reported five rabid skunks in nearby Stearns County so far in 2013.
The skunk that attacked this child appeared to be very thin and sickly, and may have been hiding in the garden outside the daycare home before pouncing on the baby.
The child care provider has been in business at that rural location, east of Little Falls, for 25 years. She has a waiting list of parents hoping to place their children there.
"We're talking about a very responsible daycare provider here, who has a good record," Sheriff Wetzel remarked.
"This is an extremely rare occurrence. We're saddened, and it's unfortunate that it happened here," he said.
"But it doesn't mean it's probably ever going to happen again, at least in our lifetimes."
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