Press-Republican

November 15, 2012

Sixth rabid animal reported in Clinton County

By JENNIFER MESCHINELLI
Press-Republican

---- — PERU — A skunk killed in the Town of Peru has tested positive for rabies.

That brings the total confirmed rabid animals in Clinton County to six for the year: one bat, one raccoon and four skunks. The third and fourth skunks were reported within two days of each other, Nov. 4 and 6.

“The rabid skunk was shot by a resident on the Jabez Allen Road,” said Rita Mitchell, principal sanitarian at the Clinton County Health Department. “The latest rabid animal was found about six miles north of the Village of Keeseville, where several rabid animals were recently confirmed.”

The homeowner had observed the skunk in the yard with obvious signs of illness and abnormal activity, such as difficulty walking and lethargy, Mitchell said.

Public-health officials strongly recommend that individuals call law enforcement if they are concerned about an animal in their vicinity that they believe could be a danger to people or pets, rather than killing it themselves. 

“Not all rabid animals are aggressive, although some are,” she said. “So far only two (of the six) were aggressive — one of the skunks and the raccoon.”

That rabid skunk entered a dog pen at a home in Keeseville, attacking three canines. The dogs killed it, but one had not been vaccinated against rabies and was euthanized.

The other dogs, up to date on their shots, needed a booster vaccination.

CLINICS IN EARLY 2013

Despite the recent rabid skunk, county rabies-

vaccination clinics are finished for the year. The Health Department held two this fall, instead of the usual one, in Keeseville. More than 400 animals were vaccinated between the two clinics, as opposed to 156 in one clinic last year. By law, clinics must be held every four months, so the next one will be in January or February 2013, according to Mitchell.

“We have a set budget for the clinics, so they are done for this year,” she said. “But we thought these were good numbers for a small village like Keeseville.”

Several rabid animals were found in Essex County this year, as well.

A deadly viral disease that attacks the nervous system, rabies is 100 percent fatal once symptoms develop, according to a Health Department news release. Humans and all other mammals can contract rabies, which is most often contracted through a rabid animal’s bite.

The most common indicators of rabies are aggressive behavior, paralysis, lethargy or, in wildlife, a lack of fear of people. However, some may show no symptoms at all.

VACCINATE, REPORT BITES

Raccoons, skunks and bats are the most common wild animals to test positive for rabies New York state. In the North Country, the cat is the domestic animal most likely to be infected with rabies, the Health Department said.

Statewide in 2011, 39 cats were confirmed rabid, along with one dog, seven cows and a goat. So far this year, the tally is 18 cats, five cows, a goat and a horse. 

Although, there are several ways for individuals to protect themselves and their pets against rabies, Mitchell stresses the following three:

▶ Have pets, along with livestock that have frequent contact with people, vaccinated. State law says that all dogs, cats and ferrets must be vaccinated by age 4 months. 

▶ Report all animal bites to your local health department. The person who was bit might have to undergo rabies vaccinations if the animal that bit the person can’t be found.

▶ Contact with bats must be reported as well, including incidents in which a bat has been found in the same room as a sleeping person.

For more information on rabies, contact the Clinton County Health Department at 565-4870 or online at www.ClintonHealth.org. Reach Essex County Public Health at 873-3500 or Franklin County at 481-1709.