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Rabid skunk found in town of Plattsburgh, health department issues precautions

— The Clinton County Health Department has reported a case of rabies has been confirmed in a skunk found on Archie Bordeau Road in the town of Plattsburgh.

The health department stated in Aug. 11 press release that the sick animal was reported by a local resident and submitted to the New York State Rabies Laboratory as a surveillance specimen on Aug. 8. No contact with humans or domestic animals was reported.

According to the health department, this is the first case of rabies confirmed in a “terrestrial” animal — mammals other than bats — in Clinton County since 1997.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services Program will be distributing oral vaccine baits for wildlife beginning around Thursday, Sept. 1. The health department will be scheduling several rabies clinics in September and October.

Rabies is caused by a virus found in the saliva and nervous tissue of infected animals and is spread to other animals or humans by direct contact. The virus infects the central nervous system in mammals and is considered 100 percent fatal. Symptoms of rabies include unusual, aggressive or calm and friendly behavior, an inability to eat or drink, drooling or “foaming” at the mouth, staggering, circling, seizures, coma and death.

The health department recommends the following precautions to protect yourself and your family and pets from possible exposure to rabies:

  • Report any sick or strange acting wildlife.
  • Vaccinate pets and livestock. New York State law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets be vaccinated against rabies by 4 months of age. Vaccination is also recommended for livestock with frequent human contact. Vaccinating your domestic animal not only provides protection for the animal, but vaccinated pets act as a barrier to keep the rabies virus from spreading between wild animals and people.
  • Do not feed wildlife or stray animals and discourage them from seeking food near your home.
  • Do not approach an unknown animal, either wild or domestic, especially if it is acting in an unusual way.
  • Report all animal bites and contact with bats to the Health Department. Human rabies can be prevented after exposure by administering a series of shots.
  • Keep garbage cans tightly covered and avoid storing any food outside.
  • Children should be instructed to tell an adult immediately if they were bitten or scratched by any animal.
  • To prevent the possible spread of the rabies virus, no one, including trappers and nuisance wildlife rehabilitators, should transport and relocate any wild animals at this time.
  • If an unvaccinated pet comes in contact with a rabid or suspected rabid animal, the pet must be quarantined for six months.
  • Vaccinated pets that come in contact with a rabid or suspected rabid animal must be given a booster rabies vaccination within five days of the contact.

For more information on rabies, contact the Clinton County Health Department at 565-4870 or visit www.clintonhealth.org.

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