Squirrels Don’t Usually Have Rabies, But Here’s What To Do If You Are Bitten

Image courtesy of Mike GL

Brooklyn has been gripped with the news of an aggressive, possibly rabid squirrel on the loose in a major park, attacking locals and prompting concerns of infection. So what do you do if you’ve been bitten?

Before you post about your experience on social media, you should go immediately to the emergency room for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. If your pet is bitten by a rabid animal of any kind, you should take it to the vet straight away as well.

New York City health department officials say five people were attacked and bitten last week by what they’re calling “an unusually aggressive squirrel” near the Parkside and Ocean Avenue entrance to the park.

It’s unclear whether or not the squirrel was actually rabid, “however, based on the unusual aggressive behavior, the Health Department is acting under the assumption that the animal is rabid.”

The attacks all between Tuesday, July 18 and Thursday, July 20. If the squirrel was indeed rabid, officials believe it would be dead by now.

While you shouldn’t be afraid continue using the park, don’t feed or approach any wildlife while you’re there, just in case.

“Aggression in squirrels is extremely rare, but park-goers’ behavior toward all wildlife should remain the same: Do not approach the animals with whom we share our city, but rather appreciate them from a distance. Keeping your distance protects both you and the animals themselves,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP.

Squirrels don’t usually carry rabies; the Health Department hasn’t identified any other rabid animals in the park or Brooklyn in 2017. Since the city started surveilling rabies in 1992, New York State hasn’t identified any squirrels with rabies. There have been no known cases of squirrel-to-human rabies transmission in the United States.

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