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Rabid skunk in town of Lowville had contact with pet

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LOWVILLE — A pet in the town of Lowville recently came in contact with a rabid skunk, the second reported rabies case in Lewis County this year.

The Lewis County Public Health Agency was notified Tuesday by the state Department of Health’s Wadsworth Laboratory that the skunk had tested positive for the disease.

While there was no human contact, the rabid animal had direct contact with a pet, according to an agency release.

Because the pet had not been vaccinated against rabies, the owner was “faced with the difficult decision” to euthanize it, the release states.

The alternative would be six months of strict quarantine, with very limited human contact, said Carol A. Paluck, Lewis County Public Health director.

“It is very important for people and their pets to avoid direct contact with wild animals, particularly if the animals are behaving abnormally,” the Public Health release states. “Keep pets and people away from any wild animals, and be sure companion animals are up to date with their rabies vaccinations. Livestock owners should consider rabies vaccinations for their cattle and horses. It is not unusual for a fox, raccoon or skunk to find its way into a livestock barn.”

A raccoon in the town of West Turin in early February also tested positive for rabies.

Any wild animal that has contact with people or pets should be captured, if it may be done without direct contact, and local public health officials should be notified.

The county agency, in conjunction with Countryside Veterinary Clinic, starting in May will again offer a series of rabies vaccination clinics, Mrs. Paluck said.

This year, officials plan to offer online scheduling of appointments for the clinics to help avoid long lines and reduce interaction between animals at the various sites throughout the county, she said.

For more information on rabies, call the Lewis County Public Health Agency at 376-5453.

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