Vt. Health Dept: Rabies numbers on par with last year - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. Health Dept: Rabies numbers on par with last year

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ST. ALBANS, Vt. -

Peggy Coon's granddaughter made an unsettling discovery in her backyard.

"My 7-year-old granddaughter was playing out in the yard in her sandbox and was calling for us to come out -- that there was a baby raccoon under the evergreen tree," Coon said.

Turns out it wasn't a baby, but a sick raccoon, barely moving beneath the tree. Coon called police to her New Street home. The animal was euthanized -- and tested positive for rabies. That was at the end of March. Since then two other cases of rabid raccoons have been confirmed on Federal and High Streets. "Elizabeth had gone pretty close to it so thank heavens she didn't try to pet it or something," Coon said.

"We've encroached on their areas. They've encroached on ours. You can drive around the city anytime of day or night and see these animals moving around," said St. Albans Police Chief Gary Taylor.

Taylor said that while he's concerned, three cases does not constitute an epidemic. Rabid animals are an issue that the health department has been monitoring for years. "We're at 14 so far this year, which is right where we were at this time last year, so there's nothing unusual going on. Occasionally we do see pockets where there's more activity in one part of the state," said the Vt. Health Department's Patsy Kelso.

Franklin County tops the list with six cases so far this year. The remaining eight are spread throughout the state, with five Raccoons, six skunks, a horse, a fox and a bat carrying the deadly disease. Officials warn residents not to feed wild animals, to keep trash cans and compost containers tightly secured and avoid letting pets roam freely at night. "Any rabid animal is worrisome if it comes in contact with people or pets or livestock and so something every Vermonter should do is make sure that your pets and livestock are up to date on their rabies vaccines," Kelso said.

Health officials say you should never approach a wild animal that's acting strangely. Instead -- call the police or the rabies hotline:  1-800-4-RABIES

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