SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

May 26, 2014

Surprise delivery at NY health agency

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Someone left five well-fed baby raccoons on the doorstep of the Westchester County Health Department Friday morning, and the department said that person should call immediately to be assessed for the possibility of rabies.

The month-old raccoons were delivered to the department’s office in Mount Kisco in a cage with bottles of milk, blankets and toys, the department said.

“They appear to have been well cared for and nurtured, which means that there was direct contact between these raccoons and the person or people who were caring for them,” said Dr. Sherlita Amler, the county health commissioner. “That’s why it’s important that we talk to the individual or individuals who left them to determine if they may have been potentially exposed to rabies.”

Raccoons are among the most common carriers of rabies, a disease that is fatal if not quickly treated.

Department spokeswoman Caren Halbfinger said if the raccoons’ caretaker comes forward, he or she will be asked about any bites or scratches. Officials also want to know if the raccoons’ mother was sick.

That would help determine whether the animals must be tested for rabies, which can only be done by killing them, and if any people need treatment.

The raccoons were placed with a certified wildlife rehabilitator who will watch them for signs of the disease.

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