BELMAR — A raccoon captured after an 83-year-old woman was bitten Wednesday afternoon will be sent for testing to determine if it was infected with rabies or another dangerous disease.

The woman was bit in the hand while she was on the porch of her home on Eighth Avenue, according to Monmouth County SPCA executive director and chief of human law enforcement Ross Licitra.

News 12 New Jersey reporter Jim Murdoch tweeted pictures of the woman with deep bites around her right thumb.

A raccoon was captured on Thursday after a dog was bit by a raccoon just three blocks away. Authorities believe it was the same raccoon but lab testing will determine for sure.

Licitra said the animal could also have been infected with distemper, which is similar to rabies.

Raccoon suspected of biting an elderly woman and a dog in Belmar
Raccoon suspected of biting an elderly woman and a dog in Belmar (MCSPCA)

"New York City saw a large amount of raccoons break with (canine) distemper," Licitra said.

The New York City Department of Health reported that 176 raccoons with canine distemper were found in Central Park last fall.

Canine distemper is a contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Symptoms include:

    • Watery to pus-like discharge from their eyes
    • Fever
    • Nasal discharge
    • Coughing
    • Lethargy
    • Reduced appetite
    • Vomiting

As the virus attacks the nervous system, infected dogs develop circling behavior, head tilt, muscle twitches, convulsions with jaw chewing movements and salivation (“chewing gum fits”), seizures, and partial or complete paralysis. The virus may also cause the footpads to thicken and harden, leading to its nickname “hard pad disease.”

Rabies, which is transmitted through bites, can be prevented by vaccinating pets, avoiding wildlife and stray animals, and seeking veterinarian help if a pet is exposed to a bat, raccoon, skunk or wild carnivore.

“If you are bitten by an animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water and seek medical attention,” Monmouth County Public Health Coordinator Christopher Merkel said Friday.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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