Public health officials in North Dakota issued a rabies alert Tuesday after learning someone brought a captive raccoon inside a bar in the small town of Maddock.
The North Dakota Department of Health & Human Services is advising anyone who may have been bitten or had contact with the raccoon's saliva to speak with a health care provider.
The incident happened at the Maddock Bar last Tuesday, according to authorities.
“Because rabies is such a serious disease with a nearly 100% fatality rate, we are making this information available to the public as a precautionary measure,” said Amanda Bakken, an epidemiologist with the state health department.
Bartender Cindy Smith told the Bismarck Tribune a local resident carried the animal into the bar during happy hour and showed it off to another customer.
The woman was immediately asked to leave.
"We finally got her out with it, and that's all that happened," Smith told the Tribune. "It never left her arms one time, and there was absolutely no biting."
Six cases of rabies have been documented in North Dakota this year, including two bats, two cats, one bovine and one skunk.
The viral infection is most often transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, but it can also be transmitted if saliva or nervous system tissue from a rabid animal enters open cuts and wounds or the eyes, nose, or mouth.
There is no treatment and rabies is nearly always fatal, but post-exposure vaccines are available for anyone who might've been exposed to the infection.
The Humane Society of the United States says only one human has ever died from the raccoon strain of rabies.