Westchester Department Of Health Issues Rabies Alert

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These baby raccoons were left and at Mount Kisco office of the County Health Department, which is looking for the person who left them on May 23.
These baby raccoons were left and at Mount Kisco office of the County Health Department, which is looking for the person who left them on May 23. Photo Credit: Westchester County Health Department

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- The Westchester County Department of Health has issued a rabies warning and is seeking a person who may have left five baby raccoons at the department's Mount Kisco office on Friday.

“The raccoons were left on our doorstep in a cage with bottles of milk, blankets and toys,” said Dr. Sherlita Amler, commissioner of health in a press release. “They appear to have been well cared for and nurtured, which means that there was direct contact between these raccoons and the person or people who were caring for them. That’s why it’s important that we talk to the individual or individuals who left them to determine if they may have been potentially exposed to rabies.”

The person or person in question should call the Department of Health at 914-813-5000 to assess their need for lifesaving rabies treatment.

The Health Department's press release said the baby raccoons appear to be healthy and are being placed with a certified wildlife animal rehabilitator, where they will remain in hopes that their caregiver can be located and evaluated. The only way to confirm an animal has rabies is by euthanizing it and testing its brain tissue, a step the health department is trying to avoid, the department statement said.

Rabies is a fatal disease that is spread through the bite or saliva of infected animals. Those animals most commonly infected are raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes.  However, domestic animals such as cats and dogs are also at risk because they can easily contract rabies from wild or stray animals. Anyone bitten by a rabid animal, or having contact with its saliva, may need to receive post-exposure rabies vaccination.

Unusual behavior may be the first sign of rabies in an animal. A rabid animal may become either abnormally aggressive or unusually tame. It may lose fear of people and become excited and irritable, or, conversely appear particularly passive and lethargic. Staggering and frothing at the mouth are sometimes noted.

All animal bites or contacts with animals suspected of having rabies must be reported to the Westchester County Department of Health at 914-813-5000, 24 hours a day.

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The report was derived solely from Heath Department request for an alert...due to the question of the way the animals were found. Daily Voice used information released to us. We Will report any updates.

I think the problem is not knowing what happened to the mother raccoon. If it is not known how she died than health officials may feel they have to err on the side of caution and presume it was because of rabies. Rabies is a terrible disease and Westchester usually leads New York State as the county with the most reported cases. In the past ten or twelve years I've encountered four or five raccoons that appeared to be rabid. It's a real problem.

I agree with ducatista, but it seems to me that the problem is more with the media headline. Why not simply say that individuals who left baby raccoons are at potential risk and should contact Dept of Health or seek medical attention urgently?

why is this an article about a rabies alert and no good reason for giving one is reported? Finding five well cared for raccoons on the Dept of Health doorstep doesn't seem like a reason to issue this warning. Dept. of Health shouldn't cry wolf, rabies is a real potential problem here and false warnings are not appreciated.

I think the problem here is how the babies were found. What was the reason for captureing them and careing for them? What happened to their mother? Could she have died from rabies? What was her condition. Much has to be known that will determine the fate of these cute bandits.

Why is anyone assuming that these babies have rabies? It seems pretty obvious that these were well cared for, probably as pets. The person who turned them in might have done so because they could not care for them properly. Perhaps is there is followup, letting them know there will be no negative repercussions, they might be more likely to come forward. But since they have had lots of human contact and seem to have been hand-raised, there is probably nothing to worry about.

I've raised several raccoons from newborns and never gave rabies a thought. The very mention of killing these obviously healthy little critters is disgusting and shocking. Whomever did the wonderful job of raising them to this point deserves credit. They are little handfuls and raising one is hard enough. I can understand that she or he wanted to give them a future in good hands and it is just ignorance to think that every raccoon is a threat of rabies.

In my neighborhood in Yonkers raccoons have been very aggressive at times about trying to knock over garbage cans to search for food. I have chased them off my property but occasionally the larger males stand their ground and become confrontational.

Not fun!

once rabies gets to a certain point - like in your brain - its game over and out