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Man attacked by rabid otter


By Jade Jarvis

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    JUPITER, Florida (WPBF) — A Jupiter man is recovering tonight after being attacked by a rabid otter.

The Florida Department of Health confirmed that the animal tested positive for rabies and has since been euthanized.

This is the first otter with rabies Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control has seen since 2010, and it certainly caused a lot of grief for people in Jupiter.

“I normally go out and feed ducks in the back. Ducks, geese, ibis,” Joseph Scaglione said.

Joseph Scaglione said last Wednesday morning he was just doing what he normally does, feeding the birds that gather outside of the gate surrounding his backyard, when suddenly they all took off.

“Looked up, no hawk, look back down, and there was a brown head sticking up over the bank of the pond. And at first, I didn’t know it was an otter, but then I realized that’s an otter,” Scaglione said.

Scaglione said he started backing slowly towards his gate but, when he lifted his hand to close it, the otter quickly pounced, making him trip and fall over.

The otter bit him on his legs, hands, and arms 41 times.

“My pinky is the worst. I have two puncture wounds. I’m not sure if it goes right through or whatever. One is on the corner of where the cuticle was,” Scaglione said.

Scaglione said he eventually was able to toss the otter away and get to safety, but later that day, Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control said the otter crossed paths with a couple, their baby, and their dog in the same neighborhood and attacked the dog.

Then, some residents were able to capture the animal by covering it with a recycling bin.

“We captured the animal. We were able to secure it, get it here in our facility. From there, sample is collected.

then sent to the state laboratory in Jacksonville. Takes a couple days, so on Saturday, the results came back confirmed to be positive,” Capt. David Walesky, the assistant director of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, said.

As for Scaglione, he’s being treated for rabies, is relieved the otter is gone, and he’s already back doing what he loves to do.

“It’s nice back out there. We, you know we really enjoy it. We have the ducks and the geese that come all the time. And we love them, and they know us, and it’s a pleasant thing,” Scaglione said.

Walesky said that the otter likely got rabies from an infected raccoon.

He’s urging the public to be careful with feeding wildlife, especially raccoons, and make sure your animals are vaccinated.

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