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Baby Raccoons Found on Health Department Doorstep

Will the person who left the kits come forward so health officials don't have to kill the raccoons for rabies testing?

Five baby raccoons in a cage were discovered on a government doorstep in Mount Kisco this morning. Now county health officials are desperately trying to find out who did it. Here's the agency's press release:

The Westchester County Department of Health is asking the person or persons who left five baby raccoons on the doorstep of the health department’s office in Mount Kisco this morning to contact the department of health immediately at (914) 813-5000 to assess their need for lifesaving rabies treatment.

“The raccoons were left on our doorstep in a cage with bottles of milk, blankets and toys,” said Dr. Sherlita Amler, commissioner of health. “They appear to have been well cared for and nurtured, which means that there was direct contact between these raccoons and the person or people who were caring for them. That’s why it’s important that we talk to the individual or individuals who left them to determine if they may have been potentially exposed to rabies.”

At this time, the baby raccoons appear to be healthy and are being placed with a certified wildlife animal rehabilitator, where they will remain in hopes that their caregiver can be located and evaluated. The only way to confirm an animal has rabies is by euthanizing it and testing its brain tissue, a step the health department is trying to avoid.

Rabies is a fatal disease that is spread through the bite or saliva of infected animals. Those animals most commonly infected are raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. However, domestic animals such as cats and dogs are also at risk because they can easily contract rabies from wild or stray animals. Anyone bitten by a rabid animal, or having contact with its saliva, may need to receive post-exposure rabies vaccination.

Unusual behavior may be the first sign of rabies in an animal. A rabid animal may become either abnormally aggressive or unusually tame. It may lose fear of people and become excited and irritable, or, conversely appear particularly 
passive and lethargic. Staggering and frothing at the mouth are sometimes noted.

Direct contact with wild or stray animals, even baby animals, is not advisable. Parents should teach children not to touch unfamiliar animals and to immediately tell an adult if they have been bitten or scratched by an animal. Any physical 
contact with a wild or unfamiliar animal should be reported to a health care provider. All animal bites or contacts with animals suspected of having rabies must be reported to the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000, 24 hours a day.

Keeping pet rabies vaccinations up to date is also important for protection against rabies. New York State law requires that dogs, cats and ferrets to be vaccinated against rabies and receive regular booster shots. For more information about rabies and its prevention, visit the Health Department’s website at www.westchestergov.com/health. Residents can also like us on 
Facebook at www.facebook.com/wchealthdept and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/wchealthdept.
Theresa Flora May 27, 2014 at 07:10 AM
Here's a link to the CDC website. Sorry it has to be copy and pasted: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/exposure/animals/other.html Note that it says "signs of rabies among wildlife can't be interpreted reliably...".
Mary May 27, 2014 at 08:45 PM
Per the CDC “post-exposure prophylaxis” should be initiated as soon as possible following exposure”. I wonder just how painful rabies shots are. Does the media exaggerate the reactions? (Per CDC:“post-exposure prophylaxis” The combination of human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) and vaccine is recommended for both bite and nonbite exposures, regardless of the interval between exposure and initiation of treatment. Adverse reactions to rabies vaccine and immune globulin are not common. Newer vaccines in use today cause fewer adverse reactions than previously available vaccines. Mild, local reactions to the rabies vaccine, such as pain, redness, swelling, or itching at the injection site, have been reported. Rarely, symptoms such as headache, nausea, abdominal pain, muscle aches, and dizziness have been reported. Local pain and low-grade fever may follow injection of rabies immune globulin.)
Mary May 27, 2014 at 08:52 PM
Just why does the CDC, health departments and government officials almost “automatically” go for euthanization of the animals involved? I wonder just how painful rabies shots are? Does the media exaggerate the reactions? (Per CDC:“post-exposure prophylaxis” “The combination of human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) and vaccine is recommended for both bite and nonbite exposures, regardless of the interval between exposure and initiation of treatment. Adverse reactions to rabies vaccine and immune globulin are not common. Newer vaccines in use today cause fewer adverse reactions than previously available vaccines. Mild, local reactions to the rabies vaccine, such as pain, redness, swelling, or itching at the injection site, have been reported. Rarely, symptoms such as headache, nausea, abdominal pain, muscle aches, and dizziness have been reported. Local pain and low-grade fever may follow injection of rabies immune globulin.”) Sounds like the warnings and reaction for yearly flu shot.

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