State Health Department Urges Person(s) who Had Contact with Rabid Raccoon to Immediately Come Forward

ALBANY, March 7, 2005 - The New York State Health Department today announced that a raccoon brought to the Five-Rivers Environmental Center's Wildlife Pathology Unit in Delmar on March 6, has tested positive for rabies. The State Health Department is urging the person(s) who handled this rabid raccoon and/or brought it to the Delmar lab to immediately contact their local health department to be assessed for potential exposure to this life-threatening virus.

Rabies is a viral disease affecting the central nervous system. It is transmitted from infected animals to humans and is almost always fatal once symptoms occur. However, prompt immunization after exposure is an effective treatment against rabies, preventing the onset of symptoms. The incubation period for rabies varies, but can take from two weeks to several months.

The State Health Department is working closely with Albany County public health officials to investigate the case. Rabies is primarily transmitted through bites, but may also be passed through broken skin or mucous membrane exposure to infected saliva or spinal fluid. Human post-exposure treatment consists of a dose of rabies immune globulin, followed immediately by the first of five doses of rabies vaccine. The remaining doses are given on days three, seven, 14 and 28 following the initial injection.

For more information about rabies, visit the State Health Department's website at www.health.ny.gov. The person(s) who handled this particular raccoon may contact the Department's Zoonoses program at 518-474-3186 for assistance or after hours at 1-866-881-2809.