Onondaga County Interim Health Commissioner, Michelle Mignano, announced today that the New York State Health Department laboratory has reported that a feral cat, found in the Town of Van Buren in   the Downer Street vicinity, has tested positive for rabies. 

Ms. Mignano stresses that it is important not to touch or feed unknown or feral cats because they interact with wildlife and have the potential to be rabid. If you have a feral cat on your property and want to have it removed, contact a professional animal removal service.

Protecting yourself from rabies is important year round. Rabies is a fatal disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord. It can take several weeks to several months for rabies symptoms to appear. Early treatment after an exposure can prevent rabies.

Any mammal can get rabies, but it is most often seen in bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Below are steps to help prevent rabies:

  • Teach children to stay away from unfamiliar animals, either wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
  • Wash any wound from an animal thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.
  • If your family or your pet has been exposed to a bat, capture the bat and call the Animal Disease Prevention program at 435-3165 to receive information about having the bat tested for rabies. If you awaken to find a bat in your room, or a bat is present in the room of an unattended or sleeping child or, in a room with someone with a mental impairment, seek medical advice and have the bat tested.
  • Be a responsible pet owner by keeping your pet’s vaccinations current. This is especially important for dogs, cats, and ferrets. Getting your pet vaccinated can help stop the spread of rabies from wild animals to humans.