Onondaga County Health Commissioner, Dr. Cynthia B. Morrow, announced today that the New York State Health Department laboratory has reported that a raccoon found in the Town of Marcellus has tested positive for rabies. This is the first positive rabies findings of the season. The raccoon was seen in the vicinity of West Seneca Turnpike. Any person who had physical contact with a raccoon in this area should call the Onondaga County Health Department Animal Disease Control Program at 435-3165 immediately.
Dr. Morrow stresses, “It is important not to touch or feed wildlife because they may be rabid.” Protecting yourself from rabies is important year round. 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.
Any mammal can get rabies, but it is most often seen in bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Below are some steps to prevent rabies:
• Teach children to stay away from unfamiliar animals, either wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
• Wash any wound from an animal thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.
• If your family (or your pet) has been exposed to a bat, capture the bat and have it tested for rabies. If you awaken to find a bat in your room, or a bat is present in the room of an unattended or sleeping child, or in a room with someone with a mental impairment, seek medical advice and have the bat tested.
• Keep your pet’s vaccinations current. This is especially important for dogs, cats, and ferrets. Getting your pet 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. 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. Ferrets must get a shot every year. For a full schedule of upcoming rabies clinics, or to view a video on how to capture a bat, visit www.ongov.net/health or call 435-3165.