by Steve Lieberman
New York 02/19/2010 lohud.com:
They may be cute and they may look cuddly, but wild animals or feral cats can give people rabies and should be avoided. During the past three weeks, rabid stray cats, a raccoon and a fox have been found in Clarkstown. A cat and fox were found off the causeway where a colony of cats lives in the vicinity of Chauncey Street, Old Haverstraw Road and Old Clave Court in Congers. Another cat and a racoon were found rabid in Nanuet. Tests on a third cat are pending.
Thomas Leonard of Congers knows first-hand the price paid for being bitten and scratched by a rabid fox. The wild animal attacked him Feb. 11 inside his garage. He’s now completing a series of rabies shots. He said the choice given to him at the hospital were take the shots or death since rabies untreated is fatal. “Rabies shots hurt,” Leonard said today of the 3-inch long needles. “It was a wild beast. It came after me and kept biting and attacking me.” The fox was dying from rabies, authorities said.
Clarkstown Animal Control Officer Pat McCoy-Coleman said the fox had no signs of wounds or injuries from other animals, so the theory is the fox got infected by eating out of the same plate as the stray cats. Rabies has been reported in Rockland since 1991.
Last year, Rockland had two rabid animals out of 60 cases, said Richard Price, a public health technician who oversees the rabies-control unit for the Rockland Health Department. Price said 29 people needed rabies shots last year, at an estimated cost of $60,000 to the county. He said close to half the people got infected through stray cats. In 1998, 11 people needed shots costing $25,000 following one incident involving stray cats, he said