ROME, N.Y. - The Oneida County Health Department has received a report of an animal attack on a young Rome girl and her family's pet involving a suspected rabid animal.

"A girl was outside her house accompanied by the family dog when she was attacked and bitten by an animal she first described as the size of a raccoon," Ken Fanelli, Public Information Officer for the Oneida County Health Department said. He added, "The dog then came to the girl's defense and engaged the animal and, after sustaining wounds,  chased the animal off."

Because it was dark and the animal was not recovered, positive identification could not be made but, based on its aggressive behavior, Health Department personnel believe it to be a raccoon or  fox, possibly infected with the rabies virus.  The girl has begun Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) treatment for rabies as a precaution and the family pet, which was current on it rabies vaccinations, required only a booster shot.  

As warmer weather approaches, encounters with wild animals become more common.  People should be cautioned against contact with any wild or stray animals, particularly those exhibiting strange or aggressive behavior.  Home owners are urged to take the necessary steps to minimize the chances of attracting wild animals to their property by:

 

The health department also reminds pet owners that all dogs, cats and pet ferrets 3-months and older must be vaccinated against rabies under New York State Health Law.  Dogs and cats receive two vaccines within twelve months beginning at three months of age, and then once every three years.  Ferrets must be vaccinated annually.   The Oneida County Health Department holds a series of rabies clinics throughout the year.  The next scheduled clinic will be held Monday, April 15th from 5-7 pm at the Camden Firehouse located on Church Street in Camden.  A 10-dollar donation is requested but not mandatory.     

For more information on rabies prevention or a complete schedule of rabies clinics, visit our website at www.ocgov.net/oneida/health