The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has advised the public to be alert for wildlife exhibiting unusual or aggressive behavior toward people and pets. Reports of wildlife behaving in this manner have resulted in positive rabies tests in the towns of Moriah, Crown Point, and Ticonderoga in Eastern Essex County.
Wild animals infected with rabies may act tame, sick, or unusually aggressive. These animals may also exhibit symptoms such as staggering, convulsions, choking, and frothing at the mouth, or make unusual sounds. DEC advises the public not to approach animals that appear tame, aggressive, or sick, and to report these animals immediately to DEC Region 5 Dispatch at (518) 891-0235.
DEC advises anyone that has been bitten or scratched by a wild animal or a domestic animal with unknown rabies vaccination status to wash all wounds with soap and water, seek immediate medical attention; and report the incident to the Essex County Health Department: (518) 873-3500 (business hours), (888) 270-7249 (after hours).
Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), which almost always leads to death unless treatment is provided soon after exposure. Rabies affects mammals, including domestic pets, livestock, and humans, but is primarily found in wild animals.
Rabies is common in New York, but because it is transmitted to other animals by direct contact via a bite or scratch, the incidence tends to increase and decrease with the rise and fall of primary host populations. Among domestic animals, cats are most frequently diagnosed with rabies, and among wild animals in the currently affected areas, raccoons are most affected.
To protect yourself and your pets, never touch or handle wildlife and be sure that your pets – dogs, cats and ferrets, as well as horses and valuable livestock animals – are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.
For more information on rabies and how to protect yourself and your pets against the disease, view the New York State Department of Health fact sheet on rabies.