rabies

State Sen. Patty Ritchie said the recently passed New York state budget includes a record amount of funding for rabies prevention and treatment. State lawmakers allocated more than $600,000 for prevention and research efforts, such as funding Cornell University's program that distributes rabies vaccines to wild animals with low-flying planes and low-cost rabies clinics for pets. There is also 150,000 dollars to help local governments pay for treatment once someone is bitten by an infected animal, which Ritchie said is expensive.

Petroglyph / Flickr Creative Commons

Eight skunks in Jefferson County have tested positive for rabies this winter. County Health officials say this is number is unusually high. They're urging more pet owners in rural areas across northern New York to vaccinate their pets to stop the spread of the fatal disease to humans.

Faith Lustik remembers the first time this winter she got a call about skunks. Two were spotted in a Watertown neighborhood acting strangely.

"One of the skunks actually chased a woman and she subsequently was bitten by it," Lustik said.

Jennifer Krauel / Flickr

As we head into summer, rabid animals are turning up in central New York.

So far this year a couple of bats, a feral cat and a raccoon have tested positive for rabies, according to the Onondaga County Health Department. Environmental health assessment director Lisa Letteney says it’s common for these reports to start trickling in this time of year. Letteney is particularly concerned, though, about the feral cat found with the disease in the Baldwinsville area.

Neil McIntosh/Flickr

The United States Department of Agriculture continues to take steps toward lessening the number of rabies cases in New York state. Earlier this summer, edible plastic blister packs of a new vaccine, which has a marshmallow flavor and is a little larger than the size of a quarter, were dropped by airplane and by hand throughout northern New York and parts of four other states.