More wild animals in New York State are testing positive for rabies.

Health officials in Oneida County are warning residents to stay away from wild animals after several more rabies cases were confirmed in the area.

Wild Animals Account for 90% of All Rabies Cases

Health officials from Oneida County say a raccoon in Utica and a skunk in Remsen tested positive for the fatal disease.

The test was administered by the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center, which returned the positive results on Wednesday.

Sam Greenwood, Getty Images
Sam Greenwood, Getty Images

Thankfully, no individuals or pets were exposed to the virus in either incident. Officials are reminding residents to always keep their distance from wild animals, to ensure their pets' vaccinations are up to date, and know the signs of a rabies infections in an animal.

They said in a statement:

If you see an animal, wild or stray, do not approach it and stay away.  If, despite your best efforts, you are bit by the animal or have come into contact with the animal’s saliva, seek medical attention and contact the Oneida County Health Department to determine next steps. Rabies is a deadly disease, and if you become exposed, it is vital to get appropriate care to avoid contracting rabies.

Those who have had contact with a potentially rabid animal, such as being bitten or licked, should receive post-exposure prophylaxis as soon as possible to prevent a possible infection from taking hold.

The treatment is administered through a series of shots, with a vaccine distributed on day 1, 3, 7, and 14.

If a rabies infection does become established in a person, there is no effective treatment and death is likely to follow.

Rabies on the rise in New York

This comes shortly after Otsego County health officials warned of a potential rabies outbreak in Cherry Valley after a feral cat tested positive for rabies. This sparked concerns of a potential rabies outbreak since the feline belonged to a growing cat colony.

Read More: Potential Rabies Outbreak Reported in This Upstate New York Town

Officials have been removing cats belonging to the colony, but have not yet announced how many were trapped nor what happened to them.

This isn't the only recent case to perturb health officials.

Herkimer County Public Health urged residents to stay away from wild animals after a raccoon tested positive for rabies in the town of Schuyler. It came days after a skunk in Utica tested positive for the disease.

In August, four kittens tested positive for rabies in Rome and exposed nine people to the viral disease.

Read More: Kittens Expose 9 People to Rabies in Central New York

Amid this apparent spike in confirmed cases, officials are urging pet owners to make sure their pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations.

Rabies Clinic in Clark Mills, NY
Roah Seelam, AFP, Getty Images

If an unvaccinated pet is bitten by a rabid animal, it will need to be euthanized immediately. There is also no USDA-licensed treatment or cure for rabies in unvaccinated domestic animals.

The Signs of Rabies

Signs and symptoms of the disease include drooling or foaming from the mouth, abnormal or aggressive behavior, paralysis, seizures, difficulty swallowing, and self-mutilation.

Fox in yard in Mohawk Valley. (Photo by Bill Keeler / WIBX)
Fox in yard in Mohawk Valley. (Photo by Bill Keeler / WIBX)

The virus is transmitted via an infected animal's saliva or tissue from its brain or nervous system. Rabies is contracted through direct contact, such as a bite.

The Oneida County Health Department warned:

If you see an animal, wild or stray, with these signs, do not approach it and stay away. If any animal is acting strangely, call your local animal control officer for help. If you are concerned you may have been exposed to a rabid animal or find a bat in your home, call Oneida County Health Department for guidance.

The disease is fatal in unvaccinated animals, which is why officials stress the importance of making sure all domestic cats, dogs and ferrets are up to date on their shots.

What's New York's law on rabies vaccines in pets?

New York mandates all pet owners vaccinate their dogs, cats, and ferrets by the time they're 4-months old. Even if you have an indoor only pet, vaccinating it will protect your animal if it ever slips outside.

Spencer Platt, Getty Images
Spencer Platt, Getty Images

A free rabies clinic will be held for Otsego County residents on Thursday, December 7, at Hartwick Seminary Fire Department.

Appointments aren't necessary. Those who may have questions can contact the Susquehanna SPCA at 607-547-8111 ext. 111.

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