All right, first things first, this 'warning' by definition is a warning though it reads more like an advisory to exercise caution if you happen to come across a wild or potentially rabid animal. Though encounters with rabid animals are not necessarily common, the chance of it happening still means everyone should be aware of the potential danger.

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Rabies itself is seen mostly in wild animals who have been infected and the disease can be passed on to humans. Though rather rare, if not properly handled, someone who contracts rabies is not going to be doing well, to say the least.

A Rabid Encounter in Rochester

Fox Sighting In Central Berlin
Sean Gallup/ Getty Images

Recently in Rochester New York, a wild fox made its way through a residential neighborhood and reeked quite a bit of havoc. While in the neighborhood, this fox came in contact with a number of people who lived in the neighborhood, 5 of these individuals were indeed bitten by the fox.

It was discovered that the fox in this case was rabid. The individuals who were bitten are all receiving a variety of medical treatments to prevent the disease from severely harming them.


This recent event gave cause for Regional Wildlife Manager Mike Wasilco, to issue this particular warning not just to residents in upstate New York but to all residents of New York state.

Wildlife Manager's Statistics on Rabies and Rabid Animals

On the heels of a recent encounter, Walisco provided information for the public regarding rabies and the potential of an encounter with a wild rabid animal.

For starters, he stated that this particular encounter with this fox is very rare and that most of the time, it's only one or two people exposed in one single event. This fox's traveling while in the neighborhood is why 5 people were bitten in this event.

Red fox portrait in the winter
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Walisco also stated that a majority of situations where an individual is exposed to rabies is usually because of household pets and not wild animals or at least not direct contact with wild animals. Our household pets can become exposed when they've encountered a wild animal and been bitten without our knowledge. The best way to prevent this is simply to make sure that your pet is up to date with their vaccinations.

Rabies Warning Prompts Free Cat Vaccinations On Staten Island
Getty Images

In addition, Walisco also had some surprising information about the wild animals that can contract rabies. In my lifetime I've always heard about being cautious around raccoons, opossums and like in this recent case, foxes. However, Walisco stated (via Spectrum News),

...really almost any mammal can develop rabies...

This would include otters and beavers as well as deer. Statistically between 2 and 5 deer per year in New York. The most surprising animal mentioned were bats because bats can have the virus for long durations of time and not show symptoms.

Credit - Marko Hankkila via Unsplash
Credit - Marko Hankkila via Unsplash

Rabies Symptoms and How to Cure

Rabies as a virus in the beginning can be difficult to diagnose as early symptoms are similar to the flu like having a fever, headache and discomfort.

The Center for Disease Control identifies intense symptoms as.,

cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, and agitation...As the disease progresses, the person may experience delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, hydrophobia (fear of water), and insomnia.

Sick man having flu and headache
Getty Images/iStockphoto

The problem with rabies and why it must be handled immediately is because once these severe symptoms show themselves, they often lead to death. The CDC states that there are "Less than 20 cases of human survival from clinical rabies have been documented".

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For anyone who has had an encounter with a wild animal, you should consult your doctor to determine the severity of the encounter and determine whether treatment for rabies is appropriate. The treatment is referred to as PEP or 'post-exposure prophylaxis. It is an immune globulin followed by four separate doses of the rabies vaccine over the course of 2 weeks or 14 days.

Jonna Spilbor
Jonna Spilbor

Again, this warning is not because the recent situation became dyer. It's a warning to the public to simply be cautious, especially if you do happen to have an encounter with a wild animal that you're not sure about.

Animals in Which Rabies is Most Commonly Found

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in North America rabies is most commonly found in bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, and mongoose. It is also found in cats, cattle, and dogs. The CDC says that rabid bats have been found in every state except for Hawaii. Rabid mongoose have been found in Puerto Rico.

Rabies is easily transmitted from animals to other animals, including human beings. Human cases are rare in the United States, but deadly if not caught in time.

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