NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – A rabies alert has been issued by the Westchester County Department of Health “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,” which are both in New Rochelle and border Pelham Manor’s Shore Park.
“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,” said department spokesperson Caren Halbfinger in a news release.
A resident took the cat home June 6 and was caring for it before it began acting aggressively last week. It was euthanized at a local veterinarian’s office and then confirmed rabid this week.
Any residents “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” are urged to call the department immediately at (914) 813-5159 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the week “to assess the need for lifesaving rabies treatment.”
Robo-calls were made by the department “to notify residents who live within a half-mile of the area where the cat was found.” Flyers were also posted and distributed at the camp, club, and park.
One woman has been bitten by the kitten and she is being treated, said Westchester County Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler. She said that “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.”
Halbfinger said that “unusual behavior may be the first sign of rabies in an animal.”
“A rabid animal may become either abnormally aggressive or unusually tame,” said Halbfinger. “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.”
She also said that “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,” Halbfinger said.