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May 22, 2024

Rabid Fox Bites Prompt Health Emergency in Peekskill

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Jan 20, 2024

A rabid fox that attacked four people in Peekskill, New York has prompted a public health emergency, with officials working to contain the spread of the deadly rabies virus.

Fox Tests Positive for Rabies After Biting Two People

The fox first bit two people in separate attacks on January 16, according to the Westchester County Department of Health. The fox was killed and tested positive for rabies the next day, per officials. The two victims began receiving preventative rabies treatment.

Peekskill police searched the area to ensure there were no other foxes exhibiting concerning behavior. But residents were told to be vigilant and avoid contact with wild animals.

Two More Victims Come Forward After Learning of Positive Test

After news spread about the rabid fox on January 18, two more victims came forward to report they had also been bitten, bringing the total to four.

The additional victims were likely bitten before the first two and before the fox was killed, according to the county.

“The positive rabies result coupled with two new exposure victims tells us this was a rabid animal that had encounters with multiple people,” said Sherlita Amler, Westchester County health commissioner.

The two latest victims were also assessed and began receiving preventative treatment.

Emergency Responders Work to Locate Other Potentially Exposed People

With a total of four known bite victims, health officials are working urgently to determine if there are other community members that may have had contact or exposure.

Given the gaps between known bite incidents, authorities believe there may have been other encounters. The fox’s aggressive behavior also suggests possible neurological impacts from longer-term infection.

“Our efforts now are focused on identifying all that may have had contact with this animal over the past couple of weeks,” Amler said.

They are interviewing the victims more extensively about the specific locations of the attacks and canvassing neighborhoods to find other potential witnesses.

Rabies is Nearly Always Fatal Once Symptoms Emerge

Rabies is an acute viral disease that affects the central nervous system of mammals, including humans. It has one of the highest mortality rates of infectious diseases globally.

Species Transmission Incubation Period Mortality if Untreated
Mammals (especially carnivores like foxes) Bites, scratches, and saliva contact 2 weeks to 6 years >99%

Once symptoms like fever, headaches, and aggression emerge, rabies is almost always fatal. But modern preventative treatment administered promptly after exposure is highly effective.

The preventative regimen includes one dose of rabies immune globulin and four doses of rabies vaccine over two weeks.

Officials Urge Community Rabies Awareness and Prevention

The Peekskill rabid fox attacks have put increased attention on rabies risks. Officials are urging residents to be vigilant and proactive.

Key prevention tips from health authorities include:

  • Avoid contact with wild mammals like foxes, skunks and raccoons
  • Do not feed or handle wild animals, no matter how healthy they appear
  • Vaccinate domestic pets like cats, dogs, and ferrets against rabies
  • Seek medical care immediately for potential rabies exposures like bites and ensure responders capture/test the animal

With proper precautions, authorities hope to contain this incident and prevent any additional community exposures in Peekskill and surrounding areas. But the emergency also serves as a broader reminder of the serious dangers rabies poses if left unchecked.

Officials continue to monitor the situation closely and provide public advisories. For the latest updates, residents should visit the Westchester County Health Department website and sign up for local alerts.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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