Dog Positive for Rabies After Encounter with Raccoon

Onondaga County Health Commissioner, Dr. Indu Gupta announced today that a dog in Onondaga County has tested positive for rabies after an encounter with a wild raccoon while on a walk with its owner. This dog, a household pet, was not up-to-date on its rabies vaccinations and began having seizures and a change in behavior after being injured by the raccoon. Four residents were exposed to rabies as a result of contact with the dog, and all were given post-exposure prophylaxis.

In 2020, fourteen animals (four bats, one cat, one dog, two skunks, five raccoons, and one fox) have tested positive for rabies in Onondaga County; there are no human cases in Onondaga County.

Dr. Gupta explained, “It can take several weeks to several months for rabies symptoms to appear. Although rabies is fatal and there is no treatment, it is PREVENTABLE in both humans and pets. If a pet has contact with a wild animal, consult your veterinarian immediately for care and a rabies booster if necessary.”

Protecting yourself and your pets from rabies is important year-round:

  • Make sure rabies vaccinations are up-to-date for all your pets (dogs, cats, and ferrets).  New York State Public Health Law requires that all puppies and kittens get their initial shot at three months of age, the first booster shot within 1 year after the initial shot, and then a booster shot every three years.  Ferrets must get a shot every year.
  • Maintain control of your pets. Keep cats and ferrets indoors and keep dogs under direct supervision.
  • Make sure to wear gloves before tending to your dog after a fight with a wild animal. Don’t forget to consult a veterinarian for further care.
  • Call your town or local municipality for assistance or guidance on how to remove stray or wild animals from your neighborhood.
  • Never try to approach nor pet a wild or unfamiliar animal, including stray cats. 
  • Do not bring a wild animal, such as a fox, raccoon, woodchuck, or skunk, etc. into your home or treat them as pets. 

Teach Children to Stay Safe Around Animals 

  • Supervise children while interacting with any animal.
  • Respect a dog’s space. Never approach a dog, especially one that is tied or confined behind a fence or in a car. Be cautious around strange dogs. Don’t pet a dog—even your own—without letting it see and sniff you first.

Protect your Family from Bats
About 5 percent of bats may carry rabies, so take steps to keep bats out of your house:

  • Bat-proof your home. Look for holes in places like the garage, attic, and basement and plug them with steel wool. Repair window screen holes with wire mesh and caulk any openings or cracks.
  • Trap any bat found in your home—do not let it escape outdoors. Before trapping the bat, protect yourself with gloves and a hat. Collect the bat in a container with a secure lid. For complete instructions and a video on how to trap a bat visit:
  • Once the bat is caught, call the Animal Disease Control Program at 315.435.3165 to bring the bat in for testing at our location at 4170 Route 31, Clay, NY 13041.
  • If you cannot trap the bat, call a local trapper for assistance.

If You are Bitten by a Wild or Unfamiliar Animal 

If you or a family member are bitten, or exposed to the saliva of a wild or unfamiliar animal, first wash any wounds with soap and water and seek medical treatment if necessary. Next, call the Animal Disease Control Program at 315.435.3165 for guidance regarding concern for rabies. More information on how to address animal bites and other frequently asked questions (FAQs) can be found at

For more information about rabies prevention call 315.435.3165 or visit: