PUTNAM COUNTY, N.Y. -- With summer around the corner, animals are coming out to visit and to enjoy the warm weather.
But along with the animals, comes the chance that residents might be exposed to rabies. That's why the Putnam County Health Department is reminding residents to be careful when dealing with wild baby animals, as well as older ones.
“A person can become infected with the rabies virus through a bite from a sick animal,” says Interim Commissioner of Health Dr. Michael Nesheiwat. “Infection can occur when saliva carrying the virus comes in contact with not only an open wound but also an individual’s eyes, nose or mouth. That is why approaching a wild or stray animal, no matter how cute, is a bad idea. An animal does not have to look sick to be infected. ”
In New York State, more than half of the rabies cases in wild animals are in raccoons, followed by bats, skunks, and foxes. So far this year, three raccoons in Putnam County have been tested and found to have the rabies virus.
Safety around animals should include teaching children to avoid all wild and stray animals and telling an adult about any contact with an animal, including an unfamiliar pet.
“While wildlife and feral cats account for a number of required rabies treatments, the number-one reason for treatments in Putnam County remains bats,” said Nesheiwat.
Bats are more likely to get into homes and are more active in spring when they return to the local area.
To safely capture a bat, watch the popular demo from the New York State Department of Health available on the Putnam County website at http://www.putnamcountyny.com/how-to-capture-a-bat/ .
All animal bites 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.”
For more information, please visit www.putnamcountyny.com/health .