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December 25, 2014
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Rabies incidents confirmed in Sullivan County


Three rabid foxes have been confirmed in Sullivan County. The animaLs were found near Swan Lake, Yankee Lake and Wurtsboro. Local officials are warning residents in Sullivan County that there are very likely other rabid animals in the region, and residents should guard against them.

On July 8, county manager David Fanslau issued a press release which said, “In the past week, there have been several encounters between humans and rabid animals such as foxes, raccoons and skunks. The vast majority of rabies cases reported each year, in fact, occurs in wild animals like these.”

One specific attack was sited in an email from Lt. Deming Lindsley of the New York Environmental Conservation Police. He said that an elderly female was allegedly bitten by a fox which was rabid on Old White Lake Turnpike in Swan Lake on July 4th.

Lindsley wrote, “The victim was walking down the road in front of a camp when an animal, described to be a gray fox, came running out of the brush along the road and attacked her. I observed that the victim received bite wounds to her right hand, and a large bite mark on her right tricep. The bite marks appeared to have been from an animal. Additionally, while on site, I learned that a child was attacked on July 3 by the same animal.”

The fox was later caught and tested and found positive for rabies. Both victims were treated at Catskill Regional Medical center.

In the wake of this and other incidents, Sullivan County Public Health Director Carol Ryan released an article to help educate the public about rabies.

Among the points made is that while rabies occur in larger mammals, it rarely if ever occurs in smaller mammals such as rats, squirrels. Additionally, it does not occur in rabbits, reptiles or birds, although it can be present in bats.

To avoid rabies, Ryan advised, “Be sure your dogs, cats and ferrets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. Vaccinated pets serve as a buffer between rabid wildlife and man. Protect them, and you protect yourself and family. Vaccines for dogs, cats and ferrets over three months of age are effective for a one-year period. Revaccinations are effective for up to three years. Pets too young to be vaccinated should be kept indoors.

“Don't try to separate two fighting animals. Wear gloves if you handle your pet after a fight. Keep family pets indoors at night. Don't leave them outside unattended or let them roam free.

“Don't attract wild animals to your home or yard. Keep your property free of stored bird seed, food garbage or other foods that may attract animals. Feed pets indoors. Tightly cap or put away garbage cans. Board up any openings to your attic, basement, porch or garage. Cap your chimney with screens. Don't feed, touch or adopt wild animals, stray dogs or cats.”

Ryan said officials only test when there is possible exposure to rabies, but there are almost certainly more animals in the area that are suffering from the disease.

Go to www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies for more information.