LOWVILLE — The state Department of Health has confirmed three animals in Lewis County have tested positive for rabies within the last two days.
According to a report received from Lewis County Public Health, a raccoon in the town of Turin, a raccoon in the town of Harrisburg and a bat in the town of New Bremen have been found with the disease. Both the raccoons and bat had been observed exhibiting unusual behavior and had direct contact with domestic animals. In each case, the animals that were exposed did not have up-to-date rabies vaccinations, and the owners were faced with the decision to either euthanize their pets or place them in a strict, six-month quarantine. There was no reported human contact with either of the raccoons or the bat. These are the first three animals from Lewis County to test positive for rabies this year.
Lewis County Public Health reminds all Lewis County residents, and those who visit the county, that rabies is a “very serious and deadly viral disease affecting the central nervous system.” The disease can be transmitted from infected mammals to man and is almost always fatal once symptoms appear. People can get rabies if they are exposed to the saliva or nervous tissue of a rabid animal through a bite or scratch.
The department also notes an animal does not need to show outward signs of rabies to be infective. It is also possible for a person to have contact with a bat and not know it, particularly if the person is asleep. All bats that are found in the room of a sleeping person or small child should be captured and tested for rabies.
Lewis County Public Health has a video on how to safely capture a bat, viewable at www.lewiscountypublichealth.com.
The department also states it is “very important for people and their pets to avoid direct contact with wild animals, particularly if the animals are behaving abnormally” and further advises people to keep their pets and themselves away from any wild animals and be sure companion animals are up-to-date with rabies vaccinations.
Lewis County Public Health will sponsor a fall rabies pet clinic in September, with details to be published when a date is confirmed.
For more information, call Lewis County Public Health at 376-5453.