The Westchester County Department of Health is issuing a rabies alert to residents who may have had contact with a stray kitten or cat any time since early June on the grounds of the New York Athletic Club and/or the Winged Foot Day Camp, both located at 31 Shore Road in New Rochelle, adjacent to Shore Park in Pelham Manor.
A small grey kitten that was on the grounds in early June has been confirmed rabid, and it may have exposed other kittens or cats nearby. It was removed from the grounds on June 6 and taken home by a resident, who was caring for it until it began acting aggressively last week. The kitten was taken to a local veterinarian’s office, where it was euthanized and was then confirmed rabid this week.
The health department used robo-calls to notify residents who live within a half-mile of the area where the cat was found and produced flyers for the camp and the club to post and distribute to members, employees, campers and their families. Flyers also were posted in Shore Park.
Anyone who believes that he, she, a child or a pet may have had contact with stray cats or kittens during the past month in these areas of New Rochelle should contact the Westchester County Department of Health IMMEDIATELY at (914) 813-5159, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to assess the need for life saving rabies treatment.
“When you see a stray or wild animal acting strangely, it’s best to avoid contact with the animal and alert local authorities to avoid possible exposure to rabies,” said Westchester County Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD. “A woman who was bitten by the kitten is being treated.”
Unusual behavior may be the first sign of rabies in an animal. A rabid animal may become either abnormally aggressive or unusually tame. It may lose fear of people and become excited and irritable, or, conversely appear particularly passive and lethargic. Staggering and frothing at the mouth are sometimes noted.
Direct contact with wild or stray animals, even baby animals, is inadvisable. Residents are also reminded not to feed wild or stray animals to avoid bringing rabies to their doorstep. Parents should teach children not to touch unfamiliar animals and to immediately tell an adult if they have been bitten or scratched by an animal. Any physical contact with a wild or unfamiliar animal should be reported to a health care provider. All animal bites or contacts with animals suspected of having rabies must be reported to the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000, 24 hours a day.
Keeping pet rabies vaccinations up to date is also important for protection against rabies. New York State law requires dogs, cats and ferrets to be vaccinated against rabies and receive regular booster shots. For more information, go to www.westchestergov.com/health or call the RABIES INFOLINE at (914) 813-5010.