A raccoon anonymously left at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals on July 23 around midnight in the City of Ithaca.
The raccoon was determined to be rabid by a state laboratory, and the health department is now seeking information on the person who may have handled the raccoon before it was dropped off at the veterinary hospital to determine if the person was exposed to rabies.
"Rabies is normally transmitted by the bite of a wild or domestic rabid mammal," the health department said. "Exposures can also occur if saliva from a rabid animal enters the body through a mucous membrane, a wound that bled within 24 hours previous to the exposure, or an older wound showing signs of a bacterial infection. Do not handle pets or objects that may be contaminated with saliva from a potentially rabid animal without wearing protective gloves. Wash your hands immediately with soap and water if you do touch the saliva. Remember that a cut incurred while skinning a rabid mammal could also result in rabies transmission, as nervous tissue of an infected animal will carry the virus."
The Health Department reminds everyone to:
- Avoid contact with any unfamiliar cats or dogs and any wild animals. If you are bitten and can safely do so, get contact information from the owner.
- All cats, dogs and ferrets must have initial rabies vaccinations administered no later than four months of age. Keep vaccinations current!
- Report the following incidents to the Tompkins County Health Department at 274-6688: All animal bites or scratches; Any human or pet contact with saliva or other potentially infectious material (brain tissue, spinal tissue, or cerebro-spinal fluid) of wild animals or any animal suspected of having rabies; All bat bites, scratches, or any mere skin contact with a bat, or a bat in a room with a child, or sleeping or impaired person. Watch this video to learn how to safely capture a bat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YhnV5WJQBA.
Always contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator before handling any injured or potentially abandoned wildlife. Rehabilitators can be found here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/cfmx/extapps/sls_searches/index.cfm?p=live_rehab and here: http://tompkinscountyny.gov/health/eh/neighborhood/rabiesfacts.