Racoon tests positive for rabies in Watertown, Jefferson County Public Health warns of dangers of exposure

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 3:52 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A raccoon located in the City of Watertown has tested positive for rabies. That’s according to the Jefferson County Public Health Service.

The JCPHS says the raccoon was picked up and submitted to the United States Department of Agriculture for testing, where the animal tested positive for rabies.

There were no known human or pet exposures.

The Jefferson County Public Health Service warns that rabies is a fatal disease that can take up to several months for symptoms to appear.

They also warn that any mammal can get rabies, though it is often seen in bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Animals do not have to be aggressive or behave erratically to have rabies. Changes in any animal’s normal behavior can be early signs of rabies.

The Jefferson County Public Health Service asks you take the following steps to help prevent the spread of rabies:

  1. Teach children to stay away from unfamiliar animals, either wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. Remind them to tell you if they have any unusual contact with an animal.
  2. Do not leave pet food outside as it attracts wildlife to your home.
  3. Wash any wound from an animal encounter thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.
  4. Be a responsible pet owner by keeping your pet’s vaccinations current. Getting your pet vaccinated by your vet or at a clinic (check with your local pet supply store) can help stop the spread of rabies from wild animals to humans. JCPHS is hosting a rabies vaccination clinic at Jefferson County Dog Control on Thursday, October 20 5:00 – 7:00pm. Visit www.jcphs.org for more information.
  5. Monitor your pet when they are outside. If your pet is involved in an altercation with a wild animal, do not get in between them. Do not touch your pet without gloves as rabies is spread through saliva. Cover your pet with a towel and contact your vet as your pet may need a booster shot.