Lake Barcroft beaver attack injures 83-year-old swimmer

Lillian Peterson was attacked by a rabid beaver.

An 83-year-old woman is recovering from minor injuries after being attacked by a rabid beaver at Lake Barcroft on Tuesday night, police say.

The attack happened at about 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the private lake, which is surrounded by homes in the Bailey's Crossroads area, Fairfax County Police say.

“Never in the world did I expect anything like this,” says Lillian Peterson, the victim in the attack. “I am not going to swim there anymore.”

Two fishermen on the water heard Peterson's screams and came to her aid. The beaver never loosened its grip on Peterson. After she got to shore one of the fishermen hit it with a plank.

“I just heard her yelling ‘help help! It's got me it's pulling me under,’” says Lake Barcroft resident Mike Korin.

Peterson is a fit 83 but she needed every bit of strength to stay afloat while under attack by a rabid enraged animal.

Peterson almost lost a thumb and suffered serious injuries to her arm and leg.

“I just kept hitting it with my walking stick trying to hit it in the eyes,” she says.

Wednesday night, she is recovering and will undergo a round of rabies shots.

Police say Peterson was treated for non-life threatening injuries at Inova Fairfax Hospital, while the beaver was euthanized. After a series of tests, Fairfax County Police officials said that the beaver tested positive for the rabies virus.

According to health officials, rabies is spread through the saliva of an infected animal and can attack the spinal cord and brain of humans and other warm-blooded animals. People who are infected may not present symptoms until several weeks after being bitten.

There is no known cure for rabies, officials say. The Fairfax County Police Department has provided more information about the virus here.

Lake Barcroft, a privately owned lake that is operated by a homeowners' association, is located in an area surrounded by Leesburg Pike, Columbia Pike and Sleepy Hollow Road.

After the positive rabies test, authorities canvassed the neighborhood surrounding Lake Barcroft with information on how to protect themselves and their pets.

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