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Rabid cat found in Westport

—  A rabid stray cat has been identified in the Westport area. This is the first confirmed case of rabies in an undomesticated cat in Essex County this year. Several wild animals and one domestic farm animal were determined to have rabies in Essex County this year. Those animals were from the towns of Keeseville, Crown Point, Westport, and Ticonderoga.

Stray cats should be considered wild animals and not fed or handled.

“It is very important not to feed, touch or adopt stray or wild cats or dogs,” Kathy Daggett, Director of Preventive Services for Essex County Public Health, said. “Animals that are infected with the rabies virus do not always shows signs of being sick right away. Feeding, touching or adopting strays and wild animals can put families at real risk for rabies infection”

Daggett explain Essex County’s protocol as follows.

“If ownership is not clear, the animal will be considered wild unless there is a person who feeds the animal, in which case that person would be considered its owner.”

It is recommended that domestic and farm animal owners make sure their animals are up to date with annual rabies vaccinations. If an unvaccinated farm animal comes in contact with a rabid or suspected rabid animal it must be strictly quarantined for six months. Vaccinated animals that come in contact with wild animals must be given a booster rabies vaccination within 5 days of the contact.

If a contact happens, please notify Essex County Public Health Department at 873-3500.

It is essential for pet owners to make sure their pets are up to date with their rabies vaccinations. Teach children not to touch animals they do not know and tell an adult immediately if they are bitten by an animal. If your pet has been injured by a rabid or suspected rabid animal contact your veterinarian for medical care and contact Essex County Public Health Department at 873-3500 to determine what additional follow-up may be needed. Also notify this Department if there is contact with a bat, or a bat is found in a room with a young child or where someone is sleeping.

Essex County Public Health provides rabies clinics throughout Essex County four times per year.

Visit www.co.essex.ny.us/publichealth for the clinic schedule.

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