Rabies is on the move in New York City (NYC). Last summer, five rabid raccoons were identified in NYC – four in the Bronx and one in Manhattan’s Inwood Park. By fall, three rabid raccoons were identified in Central Park. This week, a rabid cat from the Riverdale section of the Bronx was identified. Unfortunately three humans were exposed to this cat and are undergoing rabies prophylaxis. Below is a map prepared by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene showing the number of rabid animals in NYC between December 2009 and February 2010. This tally includes 52 raccoons and a number of rabid animals in Central Park. New Yorkers should also be aware that bats can serve as rabies vectors and rabid bats have been identified in all five boroughs.
Statues governing rabies vaccinations vary amongst municipalities. In New York City, all dogs and cats must be vaccinated for rabies. Some cat owners are not aware their cats can or should be vaccinated against rabies. With rabies in our communal backyard, vaccination is one critical means to protect not only pets, but humans as well.
For more information about vaccination requirements click here.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has excellent information on rabies in New York City.
Below is a list of what pet owners can do to help protect their pets and families against rabies.
• Check with your veterinarian to confirm your dog or cat is currently vaccinated against rabies. Keep a copy of the vaccination certificate in your files in case you need to prove your pet is vaccinated.
• Keep your dog on a leash or your cat indoors if you are in areas where there may be wild animals.
• Do not let trash accumulate outdoors. Trash may attract hungry wild animals to your neighborhood.
• If your dog or cat is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary attention immediately.
• Never approach a wild animal, even if it is acting friendly. Rabid animals exhibit unusual behavior and you should always be suspicious of rabies when a wild animal is behaving abnormally.
• If you find an injured wild animal, do not try to assist it but call 311 (in NYC) or your local police precinct for help.
• If you are bitten by a wild animal, seek medical attention immediately and notify the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that you have been bitten. You should also submit a Bite Form if bitten in New York City.
For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.