July 25, 2024

Lansing residents who may have been exposed to or in contact with a litter of young wild raccoons should contact the Tompkins County Whole Health Environmental Health Division to determine risk of rabies exposure, the agency said in an alert on Tuesday afternoon. 

“Upon the death of the mother raccoon, a litter of raccoon kits were taken into the home of a resident of the Milton Meadows Apartment Complex (Lansing NY), on or around May 15, 2024,” Environmental Health said in a statement. “It is believed that during the time these kits were kept, members of the community may have had multiple exposures to these raccoons, including a group of children who were in attendance at a birthday party reported to be held on May 18, 2024.”

“EH urges anyone who has been in contact with these raccoons to call our office at 607-274-6688 to determine risk of rabies exposure,” they said. “EH must locate and interview anyone who has had contact with these raccoons in order to determine if rabies post-exposure treatment is needed. It is important to note that the rabies virus can be transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal entering an open wound or mucous membrane (eyes, nose, or mouth) and a bite does not necessarily have to occur. The only way to determine if a wild animal is rabid, is through testing of the animal. Rabies is a life-threatening illness and treatment must begin as soon as possible to prevent death.”

“Four of the five raccoons have been recovered and submitted for rabies testing,” according to Tuesday’s statement. “Three of the raccoons tested negative for rabies, while the fourth was inconclusive. A final result of the inconclusive test may not be available for a few days. Additionally, the fifth raccoon is unable to be recovered, so EH will not be able to completely rule out rabies transmission to the people potentially exposed. This makes it even more important for anyone potentially exposed to contact EH by calling 607-274-6688.”

“Raccoons are a rabies-vector species and should never be brought into your home,” Whole Health Commissioner Frank Kruppa said. “In Tompkins County, there are certified wildlife rehabilitation specialists who can assist in these circumstances. Certified wildlife rehab specialists are vaccinated for rabies and are prepared to handle rabies-vector species such as raccoons, foxes, skunks and bats.”

Kruppa continued, “It is dangerous and illegal to take wild animals into your home. When you come across injured or abandoned wildlife, please contact Animal Control or a wildlife rehabilitation specialist to retrieve the animal(s) and provide them with safe, proper care.”

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