2009-07-31 / Community

Health Department Warns Against Rabies

With the identification of several raccoons infected with rabies in the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens in recent weeks, the Health Department is reminding New Yorkers to stay away from raccoons, skunks, bats, stray dogs and cats and other wild animals that can carry rabies. Six rabid animals—all raccoons— have been identified in New York City this year. Four were found in the Bronx, one in Manhattan (near Inwood Hill Park), and one in Queens (Long Island City). Raccoons are the most commonly reported rabid animals in New York City. Rabid raccoons are a relatively common occurrence in Staten Island and the Bronx, but rare in Queens and Manhattan. Bats with rabies have also been found in all five boroughs.

People and unvaccinated animals can get rabies, most often through a bite from an infected animal. Infection leads to a severe brain disease that causes death unless the person is treated promptly after being bitten.

In 2008, 19 animals tested positive for rabies in New York City. They included 13 from the Bronx (4 raccoons, 7 skunks, 1 bat and 1 cat) and 4 from Staten Island Staten Island (all raccoons), as well as a bat from Brooklyn and a raccoon from Queens. To reduce the risk of rabies, New Yorkers should avoid all wild animals, as well as any animal that seems sick, disoriented or unusually placid or aggressive. Report such animals by calling 311. Animals that have attacked or may attack should be reported to 911. More information about rabies can be found at www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/vet/vet- 5.shtml.

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