CANTON -- A second raccoon has tested positive for rabies in St. Lawrence County, this time in the Canton area.
The St. Lawrence County Public Health Department describes the raccoon as acting strangely and sickly, so it was submitted to the New York State lab for rabies testing.
It was identified as a female raccoon that was still producing milk for its young.
The county Public Health Department is warning the public to be aware that there may be young raccoons that have been infected with the rabies virus from their mother.
The first confirmed positive animal rabies report in the county this year was from a raccoon that was collected in Oswegatchie June 11.
That raccoon was sent to the New York State lab where the disease was confirmed two days later.
The public is again strongly cautioned by the department not to handle young wildlife, especially raccoons, skunks or bats, the most common carriers of the rabies virus.
Often, well meaning individuals want to help young wildlife. This is when problems can arise: When we assume that young wildlife we find alone are abandoned, helpless and need saving, in nearly all cases, this is a mistake.
Most people quickly find they don’t really know how to care for young wildlife, and many of the animals that are "rescued" soon die despite best efforts.
Pet owners are reminded to keep animals vaccinations against rabies up to date and to avoid contact with stray dogs, cats, or wildlife.
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It kills almost any mammal or human that contracts it. Rabies can occur at any time during the year, but with the warmer weather wildlife activity increases, and the risk of exposure to rabies can also increase.
The county health authorities recommend these things to protect against rabies:
• Do not feed wild animals. You may be putting yourself and others in danger.
• Warn 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.