With warmer temperatures, people spend more time outdoors and the potential for contact with wildlife increases. Raccoons, skunks and foxes, as well as feral cats, can carry the rabies virus, found in the saliva and nervous tissue of an infected animal. Exchange can occur through an animal bite, or if saliva comes in contact with an open wound, or an individual’s eyes, nose or mouth.
To educate children about the risk of rabies, teach them to:
- Avoid wild animals, including new litters of baby animals in spring. (Everyone should resist the urge to touch or pet a wild animal or unfamiliar pet.)
- Tell an adult about any contact with a wild animal or unfamiliar pet.
- Never touch a bat. If a bat is found indoors, call the Health Department.
All animal bites and/or contact with wild animals should be reported promptly to the Department of Health at 845-808-1390. After hours or on weekends/holidays report the incident by calling the Environmental Health Hotline at 845-808-1390 and press “3.” A Health Department representative will promptly return your call. The Health Department will test any animal for possible rabies after an incident involving human or pet contact. If a family pet encounters a wild animal, avoid immediate handling, or use rubber gloves and call the Health Department.