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Skunk Found on School Property

The Columbia County Department of Health has notified us today that a skunk found on school property has tested positive for rabies. The skunk was captured by Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and sent for testing. At no time were any students or staff members in danger. 

As a result, teachers and staff have been asked to be particularly vigilant during recess and physical education periods outside. We also ask parents to speak to your kids about keeping away from any wildlife and help them exercise due diligence when walking or playing in the vicinity of wild animals. 

The rabies virus is present in the saliva and nervous tissue of an infected animal. Rabies is most often seen among wild animals such as raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes. Cats, dogs and livestock can get rabies if they are not vaccinated or not up–to–date on their rabies vaccinations. Deer and large rodents, such as woodchucks, also can get rabies.

DOH offers the following tips to help New Yorkers protect themselves against rabies:

  • Enjoy wildlife from a distance. Don't feed, touch or adopt wild animals, stray dogs or cats. If you see an animal that is sick, injured or orphaned, call an animal control officer or wildlife rehabilitator. Do not handle the animal yourself.
  • Be sure your pet dogs, cats and ferrets as well as horses and valuable livestock animals are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. Vaccination protects pets if they are exposed to rabid animals. Pets too young to be vaccinated should be kept indoors and allowed outside only under direct observation.
  • Keep family pets indoors at night. Don't leave them outside unattended or let them roam free.
  • Don't attract wild animals to your home or yard. Keep your property free of stored bird seed or other foods that may attract wild animals. Feed pets indoors. Tightly cap or put away garbage cans. Board up any openings to your attic, basement, porch or garage. Cap your chimney with screens.
  • If nuisance wild animals are living in parts of your home, consult with a nuisance wildlife control expert about having them removed. You can find wildlife control experts, who work on a fee-for-service basis, in your telephone directory under pest control.
  • Teach children not to touch any animal they do not know and to tell an adult immediately if they are bitten by any animal.
  • If a wild animal is on your property, let it wander away. Bring children and pets indoors and alert neighbors who are outside. You may contact a nuisance wildlife control expert who will remove the animal for a fee.
  • Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to your county health department. If possible, do not let any animal escape that has possibly exposed someone to rabies.

For more information on rabies and rabies prevention, visit http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies