Raccoon in city of Watertown reported to have rabies

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WATERTOWN, NY —  The New York State Department of Health rabies laboratory has reported to the Jefferson County Public Health Service (JCPHS) that a raccoon has tested positive for rabies. The raccoon was located in the City of Watertown and was submitted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for testing. There were no known human or pet exposures.

Rabies is a fatal disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord. It can take several weeks to several months for rabies symptoms to appear. Early treatment after an exposure can prevent rabies in humans and in pets who are up to date on vaccination. Any mammal can get rabies, but it is most 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.

Please take these 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.

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