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Health Department Reminds Public to Avoid Interaction with Wildlife

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Health Department Reminds Public to Avoid Interaction with Wildlife

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Tompkins County Health Department reports that a bat, a woodchuck, and two foxes captured in Tompkins County were determined to be rabid by the New York State Rabies Laboratory in the month of May.

Rabies is normally transmitted by the bite of a wild or domestic rabid mammal. Exposures can also occur if saliva from a rabid animal enters the body through a wound that bled within 24 hours prior to the exposure, through an older wound showing signs of an infection, or through contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth. Do not handle pets or objects that may be contaminated with saliva from a potentially rabid animal without wearing protective gloves. Wash your hands immediately with soap and water if you do touch saliva from a wild animal. Remember that a cut incurred while skinning a rabid mammal could also result in rabies transmission, as nervous tissue of an infected animal will carry the virus.

Spring is a time when it is common to see wildlife searching for food for themselves and their offspring. Sightings during the day are not unusual or necessarily a sign of disease however the public is encouraged to avoid contact with wildlife. Keep garbage in containers with lids, avoid leaving pet food outside, and contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator before handling any injured or potentially abandoned wildlife. Rehabilitators can be found here: and here:

The Health Department reminds everyone to:

1. Avoid contact with any unfamiliar cats or dogs and any wild animals.
2. All cats, dogs and ferrets must have initial rabies vaccinations administered no later than four
      months of age.  Keep vaccinations current!
3. Report the following incidents to the Tompkins County Health Department at 274-6688:
   • All animal bites or scratches.
   • Any human or pet contact with saliva or other potentially infectious material (brain tissue, spinal tissue, or cerebro-spinal fluid) of wild animals or any animal suspected of having rabies.
   • All bat bites, scratches, or any mere skin contact with a bat, or a bat in a room with a child, or sleeping or impaired person. Watch this video to learn how to safely capture a bat: .