WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — A raccoon located in the City of Watertown has tested positive for rabies, according to a press release from Jefferson County Public Health.

Public health officials said there were no known human or pet exposures associated with the rabid raccoon.

Rabies is a fatal disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord. It can take several weeks to several months for symptoms to appear, according to public health. They said any mammal can get rabies but it’s most often seen in bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes.

Although animals do not have to be aggressive to have rabies, public health officials said changes in an animal’s normal behavior can be an early sign of the disease.

Jefferson County Public Health shared the following tips to help prevent the spread of rabies:

  • 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.
  • Do not leave pet food outside as it attracts wildlife to your home.
  • Wash any wound from an animal encounter thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately
  • Be a responsible pet owner by keeping your pet’s vaccinations current. Getting your pet vaccinated by your vet or at a clinic (check with your local pet supply store) can help stop the spread of rabies from wild animals to humans.
  • Monitor your pet when they are outside. If your pet is involved in an altercation with a wild animal, do not get in between them. Do not touch your pet without gloves as rabies is spread through saliva. Cover your pet with a towel and contact your vet as your pet may need a booster shot.

More information is available on the Jefferson County Public Health website.