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Lewis County Public Health Agency

Preventive Services Children with Special Needs Cancer Services

7785 North State Street Lowville, New York 13367-1229 Telephone: (315) 376-5453 Fax: (315) 376-7013
Carol Paluck ~ Director of Public Health

News Release
March 26, 2013 For more information contact: Carol Paluck, Director, Lewis County Public Health 315-376-5453 On March 26, 2013, Lewis County Public Health was notified by the New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Laboratory, that a skunk found in the Town of Lowville has tested positive for rabies. The skunk had been observed exhibiting unusual behavior and had direct contact with a domestic animal. Because the animal had not been vaccinated against rabies, the owner was faced with the difficult decision to euthanize their pet. There was no reported human contact with the skunk. This is the second animal from Lewis County to test positive for rabies this year. Lewis County Public Health reminds all Lewis County residents, and those who visit our county, that rabies is a very serious and deadly viral disease affecting the central nervous system. It 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. Although rare, exposure can also occur if infected saliva or nervous tissue enters an open wound or if there is contact with mucous membranes. Fortunately, only a few human cases are reported each year in the United States. There have been no human cases of rabies in Lewis County. An animal does not need to show outward signs of rabies to be infective. It is very important for people and their pets to avoid direct contact with wild animals, particularly if the animals are behaving abnormally. Keep pets and people away from any wild animals and be sure companion animals are up to date with their rabies vaccinations. Livestock owners should consider rabies vaccination for their cattle and horses. It is not unusual for a fox, raccoon or skunk to find its way into a livestock barn. Public awareness is key to minimizing the risk of rabies. Avoid contact; however, should a person be exposed to or bitten by a potentially rabid animal, immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Capture the animal, if this can be done safely by avoiding direct contact, and call Lewis County Public Health. For more information about rabies, please call Lewis County Public Health at 376-5453.