Rabies continues to be a problem in the area and health officials are urgently warning residents to keep their distance from wildlife.

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Another rabid animal in CNY

About a week after a rabid fox attacked four people in Rome, health officials say a raccoon has tested positive for the fatal disease in Holland Patent.

Photo Credit - karamysh/Thinkstock

The Oneida County Health Department said the animal was discovered on January 30 and was sent to the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center for testing. The raccoon was confirmed rabid the following day.

Information about where the raccoon was found was not released.


Those who had contact with the raccoon should receive post-exposure prophylaxis as soon as possible to prevent a possible infection from taking hold. The treatment is administered through a series of shots, with a vaccine distributed on day 1, 3, 7, and 14.

Mount Sinai says those exposed to a rabid animal have at least up to 14 days to receive post-exposure prophylaxis. If a rabies infection does become established in a person, there is no effective treatment and death is likely to follow.

Unfortunately, wild or unvaccinated animals that contract the fatal disease need to be humanely euthanized since there is no cure for rabies. Once an animal begins showing signs and symptoms of the virus, it kills them within days.

Additionally, testing can only be done on a deceased animal, as brain matter is the only way to accurately test for an infection. Tests on saliva or blood will not yield results.

Rabies on the rise in New York

The incident comes shortly after a fox attacked four people around the Mohawk River and Black River Boulevard area. The animal was dispatched by a private resident and the fox tested positively for rabies.

Read More: Rabid Fox Killed after Attacking Multiple People in Rome 

Prior to that, a raccoon in Utica and a skunk in Remsen tested positive for the fatal disease. Additionally, officials in Cherry Valley warned of a potential rabies outbreak after a feral cat from a large colony tested positive for the disease.

Amid this apparent spike in confirmed cases, officials are urging pet owners to make sure their pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations.

If an unvaccinated pet is bitten by a rabid animal, it will have to be euthanized immediately. There is also no USDA-licensed treatment or cure for rabies in unvaccinated domestic animals.

Rabies Clinic in Clark Mills, NY
Roah Seelam, AFP, Getty Images

As previously stated by Madison County Department of Health's Aaron Lazzara, health officials "are seeing more rabid animals... than the last two years combined."

Skunks, foxes, raccoons, coyotes, and bats make up the majority of rabies cases in the United States. The disease is also capable of infecting horses, ferrets, cattle and other warm-blooded animals.

Read More: Rabid Fox Bites Elderly Woman & 2 Kids in Upstate New York

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wildlife accounts for over 90 percent of all reported rabies cases.

Signs and symptoms of the disease include drooling or foaming from the mouth, abnormal or aggressive behavior, paralysis, seizures, difficulty swallowing, and self-mutilation.

Fox in yard in Mohawk Valley. (Photo by Bill Keeler / WIBX)
Fox in yard in Mohawk Valley. (Photo by Bill Keeler / WIBX)

The virus is transmitted via an infected animal's saliva or tissue from its brain or nervous system. Rabies is contracted through direct contact, such as a bite.

The Oneida County Health Department warned:

If you see an animal, wild or stray, with these signs, do not approach it and stay away. If any animal is acting strangely, call your local animal control officer for help. If you are concerned you may have been exposed to a rabid animal or find a bat in your home, call Oneida County Health Department for guidance.

The disease is fatal, which is why officials stress the importance of vaccinating your pets against rabies and teaching young children to never play with unknown animals either wild or domestic.

What's New York's law on rabies vaccines?

New York mandates all pet owners vaccinate their dogs, cats, and ferrets by the time they're 4-months old. Even if you have an indoor only pet, vaccinating it will protect your animal if it ever slips outside.

Spencer Platt, Getty Images
Spencer Platt, Getty Images

Lazzara noted that vaccinating your pets does more than protect them against the virus. "We never want anyone to have to make a decision to euthanize an unvaccinated family pet that came in contact with a rabid animal," he said.

The Oneida County Health Department hosts rabies vaccination clinics across the area and will soon release its clinic schedule for 2024.

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