A raccoon that died after attacking a litter of feral cats on the 7800 block of 16th Avenue tested positive for rabies, a city Department of Health spokesman has just informed us.
The raccoon may have exposed the feral cats, and at least two litters of kittens, to rabies, and the Health Department said it’s working to identify the cats so they can undergo testing as soon as possible.
“It’s important for members of the community to be aware that feral cats in the area have potentially been exposed to rabies, and we are urging people to avoid feeding or handling any stray or unfamiliar animals,” Health Department Deputy Press Secretary Levi Fishman wrote to us.
Residents are reminded to immediately seek medical attention and call 311 or Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 if they are bitten by a stray or wild animal.
Fishman noted that only two other animals in Brooklyn – both raccoons – have tested positive for rabies this year. For more information on rabies, you can go here.
To help prevent the further spread of rabies among cats, dogs, and other household pets, the Health Department said to take the following steps:
- Get your cat or dog vaccinated for rabies. It’s the law.
- Check with your vet to see if your pet is up-to-date with vaccinations. Pets need a rabies booster shot every one to four years.
- Call 311 or visit nyc.gov and search for “rabies” for information on rabies.
- Always keep cats, even vaccinated cats, indoors and supervise your dog when it is outdoors. Cats and dogs that roam could come into contact with a rabid animal, get infected – and then expose you.
- Avoid wild, stray or unfamiliar animals. Keep children and pets away from them too.
- Avoid any wild, stray, sick, or injured animal, no matter how helpless it looks. Even stray cats can be dangerous.
- Raccoons, skunks, and bats are more likely than other animals to have rabies. Be careful around them—especially if they appear sick or behave strangely. Strange behavior includes normally tame animals, like cats, acting aggressively, or wild animals acting too friendly; night animals, such as raccoons, walking around during the day; or animals having difficulty walking around.
- Call 311 and ask for Animal Care and Control to find out what to do.
- Keep garbage in tight containers to avoid attracting animals.
- If you are bitten by an animal, wash the wound with soap and water immediately, consult a doctor, and call 311 or Poison Control at (800) 222-1222 to report the bite. Talk to a doctor right away to see if you need a tetanus shot or a rabies evaluation. If you don’t have a regular doctor, go to a hospital emergency room.
Photo via Tambako The Jaguar.