12th St. Lawrence County animal rabies case reported this year; County Public Health Department issues warning
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - 9:09 am

After the 12th confirmed positive rabies report in the county this year, the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department warns pet owners to keep their animals’ vaccinations against rabies up to date and to avoid contact with stray dogs, cats, or wildlife following the twelfth

So far this year, 11 raccoons and one skunk have tested positive for rabies.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It kills almost any mammal or human that contracts it.

As the warmer weather arrives, wildlife activity increases, and the risk of exposure to rabies can also increase. Baby animals are venturing out into the world but they will most likely be rabid if their mother has rabies.

Animals sick with rabies shed the virus in their saliva, so any animal bite should be taken seriously. If an animal bites you, wash the wound immediately with soap and water. Call your physician or local health department immediately. Bats, skunks, raccoons and foxes have a high risk of transmitting rabies.

No wildlife should be taken in as a pet or handled. Children also need to be educated not to approach or touch any animal unknown to them. It’s especially important that children are taught not to try and touch baby animals they find in the wild.

Rabies vaccine for human post-exposure is in very short supply and expensive. So the best course of action is to prevent the any possible exposure, the Public Health Department says.

Pets should not be allowed to roam freely and do not keep open garbage or pet food outdoors that can attract wildlife.

Other tips:

• Never approach a stray or sick-acting animal. Enjoy wildlife from a distance.

• Do not feed wild animals. You may be putting your family in danger.

• Warn your children to stay away from wild or stray animals.

• Do not keep wildlife as pets. It is against the law.

• Do not trap and transport wild animals to a new location. It’s illegal and you could be spreading diseases.

• Take measures to discourage wild animals from taking up residence in your home or on your property. For example, cover up potential entrances, such as uncapped chimneys, loose shingles, and openings in attics, roofs and eaves. You may want to contact a professional for advice.

Questions about rabies or possible exposures may be called to the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department at 386-2325.

The department’s website has a list of rabies clinics for pets scheduled in the county at www.co.st-lawrence.ny.us/Departments/PublicHealth/ or call and a list will be provided to you.

The department also maintains a list of nuisance wildlife control officers for hire for citizens experiencing wildlife nuisance issues.