Bat is first rabid animal of year in Franklin County

This bat has visible symptoms of white-nose syndrome. (Photo provided — Larry Master, Mastermages.org)

The first confirmed case of rabies for Franklin County this year has been found in a bat in Hogansburg.

The county Health Department said in a press release the rabies diagnosis was confirmed late last week.

“The bat was located in Hogansburg,” the release said. “Local and state Health Departments along with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Animal Control Officers worked together jointly in this investigation.

“Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease. Vaccination of pets is the primary prevention measure that prevents the rabies virus from passing from wildlife to pets and humans.”

In addition to vaccinating pets, the county Health Department said people should avoid wild animals, seek medical care immediately if injured by a wild animal, and report any animals that are acting strangely.

While this is the first confirmed case this year in Franklin County, in March the state Department of Environmental Conservation warned residents of rabies after several animals tested positive in Essex County, near Ticonderoga, Moriah and Crown Point.

“The rabies virus infects the central nervous system of mammals, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s website says. “The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes, although any mammal can get rabies.

“The first symptoms of rabies may be very similar to those of the flu including general weakness or discomfort, fever, or headache. These symptoms may last for days.

“There may be also discomfort or a prickling or itching sensation at the site of the bite, progressing within days to acute symptoms of cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, and agitation,” the CDC continues. “As the disease progresses, the person may experience delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, hydrophobia (fear of water), and insomnia.

“Once clinical signs of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal, and treatment is typically supportive. To date less than 20 cases of human survival from clinical rabies have been documented.”

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/rabies/index.html or contact the Franklin County Health Department at 518-481-1709.