ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY, N.Y. (WWTI) — The St. Lawrence County Public Health Department is notifying residents that the first case of rabies this year has been confirmed in the county.

According to the department, routine surveillance by the U.S. Department of Agriculture led to the detection of a rabid raccoon in the town of Norfolk. The raccoon was reportedly found dead on the side of the road and was submitted to the New York State Department of Health Laboratory for testing.

Rabies is a deadly virus that can be spread to people from the saliva of infected animals. Rabies is usually
spread through an animal bite, but can also be spread through a scratch, according to public health.

In St. Lawrence County, the animals most likely to spread rabies are raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. Domestic animals, such as cats and dogs, may spread the virus if they come in contact with an infected wild animal.

Public health released several tips so that residents can protect their families and pets against rabies. Their suggestions are listed below.

  • Keep pets and livestock up to date with rabies vaccinations, supervise pets while they are outside and feed them inside.
  • Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals, stray dogs, or cats.
  • Do not attract wild animals to your home or yard. Tightly lock garbage and compost bins, and store bird seed and pet food inside. If you do have a wild animal living around your home, call an animal control officer to remove the animal for a fee.
  • Report any strange or abnormal acting wildlife to the USDA. Wild animals may be submitted for rabies testing if they have had contact with humans, or pets or if they display unusual behavior.
  • Those who have been exposed to the saliva or brain tissue of a suspected rabid animal should wash all wounds, seek medical attention immediately and report any animal bites or rabies exposures to St. Lawrence County Public Health (315) 386-2325.
  • If you suspect your pet or livestock has made contact with the saliva or brain tissue of a rabid animal contact your veterinarian for medical care and contact St. Lawrence County Public Health to determine what steps must be taken next.
  • Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to Public Health. Try not to let the animal involved escape.

Those interested in receiving more information about rabies or have additional questions should contact the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department at (315) 386-2325 or visit their website.