Central New Yorkers should be worrying about more than Ebola

By Waldy Diez SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Another bat in Onondaga County recently has tested positive for rabies. This is the eighth bat of the year, and the fifteenth animal to be found with the disease.

More than 90 percent of all rabies cases occur in wild animals such as foxes, raccoons and skunks with bats being the most common to carry the disease.

While only deadly to one or two people a year in the United States, it is still important to keep your family and pets safe from it.

If contracted and not treated right away, rabies will attack the central nervous system. Early symptoms include fevers, headaches and general weakness with insomnia, partial paralysis and hallucinations, among others, developing as the disease progresses.

Lisa Letteney, director of environmental health assessment of Onondaga County, said the disease is easily preventable.

“The first thing is having your pets vaccinated for rabies because if your pet is exposed to a wild animal, they can get rabies,” Letteney said. “That’s really important.”

The county health department offers free rabies clinics to vaccinate your pets.

Letteney emphasized how important it is to capture a rabid bat if found in your home.

“We always encourage anybody that finds a bat in their home, whether its while they’re sleeping or just during the day, just to capture that bat so we can test it for rabies,” Letteney said.

According to Letteney, bat bites are shallow; if you find a bat in your room and are unsure if it bit you, you should still capture it and bring it to the county health department.

“We require people to bring [the bat] to our office and then we send it to the New York State Health Department lab,” Letteney said. “They will do the analysis for the rabies.”

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