KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — For the first time ever, veterinarians identified an anteater infected with rabies.

A tamanduas anteater was living at a Tennessee zoo when it became ill. In June, it stopped eating, was constantly lethargic and had other symptoms. The creature ultimately had to be brought to the UT College of Veterinary Medicine for research.

Eventually, when no other cause could be found for the animal’s symptoms and no care was successful in improving its condition, it was euthanized on July 6.

The anteater didn’t have any bite marks, but a clinician confirmed the diagnosis which can only be confirmed after death. The CDC believes the anteater got the disease from exposure to wild raccoons when it lived in a Virginia zoo.

“One of the things that did come out of this vaccination of dogs and cats are super important, but also if we do have nondomestic or exotic animals in the zoo – should consider vaccinating them as well,” said Marcy Souza, a professor of Veterinary Public Health at UT.

Twenty-two people were assessed to make sure the anteater didn’t spread rabies to them but the infection did not spread. Luckily, the anteater was not on public display so there is no threat to the public.

While this is obviously an unfortunate diagnosis for the anteater, this find will help researchers protect other animals that could become infected.