Health officials are seeking the public’s assistance as they attempt to gather information about a potentially rabid raccoon who may have bit a man over the weekend.
The Rockland County Department of Health issued an alert requesting that anyone in the community who has information regarding a man who was bitten by a raccoon in Kakiat Park in Suffern to come forward.
According to officials, the incident may have occurred on Saturday, Jan. 11, or Sunday, Jan. 12. The raccoon “could potentially be a rabid animal and the bite victim will need to seek immediate medical attention.”
“Unusual behavior may be the first sign of rabies in an animal,” the Department of Health noted. “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.”
Health officials noted that “residents who see a stray or wild animal acting strangely should avoid contact with the animal and alert local authorities to avoid possible exposure to rabies.”
Anyone bitten by a rabid animal or having contact with its saliva may need to receive immediate post-exposure rabies treatment, according to health officials. When administered early enough, before symptoms develop, the treatment is 100 percent effective. Once symptoms occur, in humans or animals, the disease is fatal.
"Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. All dogs, cats, and ferrets that are four months of age or older and reside within Rockland County are required to be vaccinated against rabies"
In an effort to protect oneself from rabies, one should never feed, handle or approach wild or stray animals, officials noted.
Anyone with information has been instructed to contact the Department of Health by calling (845) 364-2594 or the Rockland County Sheriff’s Office at (845) 638-5400.
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