Onondaga County Interim Health Commissioner, Michelle Mignano, announced today that the New York State Health Department laboratory has reported that a bat found in the area of the 500 block of Seymour Street in Syracuse, near the Vincent House, has tested positive for rabies. Several children have been identified who potentially handled this bat on Wednesday, September 24th in the late afternoon. The Health Department is still actively seeking all of the individuals who may have had contact. It is extremely important that these children be identified as soon as possible. Any person who believes their children or themselves had physical contact with the bat in this area should call the Onondaga County Health Department Animal Disease Control Program at 435-3165 or Disease Control at 435-3236 immediately.
In addition, a fox found in the Coventry Road area in the Town of Onondaga has tested positive for rabies bringing the total number of positive animal rabies tests to 14.
Ms. Mignano explained, “It is important that residents remember not to approach or feed wild animals and strays because they may be rabid. ” Rabies is a fatal disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord. It can take several weeks to several months for rabies symptoms to appear. Early treatment after an exposure can prevent rabies. It is important to protect yourself from rabies all year round.
Any mammal can get rabies, but it is most often seen in bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Below are important steps to prevent rabies:
- Teach children to stay away from any animal they do not know, either wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
- Wash any wound from an animal thoroughly with soap and water and seek immediate medical attention.
- See your doctor for attention for any trauma due to an animal attack.
- If you come into contact with an animal exhibiting signs of rabies such as unusual behavior, change in the voice of the animal, signs of paralysis (weakness), a hard time swallowing with a lot of salivation, and/or acting lethargic (very weak), contact Animal Disease Prevention at 435-3165.
- Don’t attract wild animals to your home or yard. Keep your property free of stored bird seed or other foods that may attract wild animals. Feed pets indoors. Tightly cap or put away garbage cans. Board up any openings to your attic, basement, porch or garage. Cap your chimney with screens.
- If a wild animal is on your property, let it wander away. Bring children and pets indoors and alert neighbors who are outside.
- Keep your pet’s vaccinations current. This is especially important for your pet dogs, cats, and ferrets. New York State Public Health Law requires that all puppies and kittens get an initial shot at three months of age, with a booster shot every three years. Getting your pet regularly vaccinated can help stop the spread of rabies from wild animals to humans.
The Onondaga County Health Department offers a number of clinics throughout the year to protect your pet from rabies. All clinics are open to the public and no appointment is necessary. For a schedule of upcoming rabies vaccination clinics, visit www.ongov.net/health or call 435-3165.