Rabid raccoon found in Stamford

A raccoon that attacked a dog in the Delaware County village of Stamford has tested positive for rabies, county health officials announced Thursday.

It is the first animal in the county to be found with rabies in 2014. No rabid animals were found in Delaware County in 2013, according to county health educator Heather Warner.

The raccoon was captured and killed, and sent to the state rabies laboratory for testing. On Thursday, March 13, the laboratory reported that the animal had tested positive for rabies. 

According to a press release from Delaware County Public Health Services, the dog's owner said that the attack occurred during the day, which is unusual behavior for healthy raccoons.

Once fully contracted, rabies is almost 100 percent fatal to all mammals, including humans. Only a tiny handful of people worldwide are known to have recovered from rabies, under a new and highly experimental medical treatment.

But during the incubation period of the rabies virus, before symptoms appear, a person who has been bitten by a rabid animal can receive rabies immune globulin and vaccination to prevent the onset of the disease. 

For humans who have been bitten by an animal suspected to have rabies, the vaccination protocol -- which was once an invasive and very painful procedure involving many shots in the abdomen -- is now a much less painful process, with a short series of intramuscular shots similar to flu or tetanus vaccinations.

Anyone who has been bitten by an animal, or who has seen a wild animal acting sick or strange, should report it to the local county health department. If an unvaccinated pet comes into contact with an animal suspected of rabies, it will need to be quarantined.

County officials recommend that pets and livestock should be vaccinated against rabies to prevent the spread of the disease. Several upcoming rabies vaccination clinics are scheduled in Delaware County:

  • Thursday, March 27, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Delhi Fire Department
  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Stamford Village Highway Garage
  • Tuesday, May 6, 2014 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Brookside Veterinary Hospital in Arkville
  • Wednesday May 14, 2014 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Pindars Corners Fire Department
  • Friday May 23, 2014 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Roxbury Town Garage
  • Wednesday June 11, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Walton Town Highway Garage
  • Friday June 13, 2014 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Tompkins Town Highway Garage
  • Wednesday July 9, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Deposit Town Clerk Building
  • Monday July 21, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Sidney Fire Hall
  • Wednesday August 6, 2014 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Franklin Fire Hall 

Update, 2 p.m.: According to Delaware County Public Health officials, the dog that was bitten by the rabid raccoon was unvaccinated. A statement posted on the department's Facebook page:

The dog was unvaccinated, Public Health is working with the dog owner to set up quarantine that meets NYSDOH criteria. There was no human exposure.