ITHACA, N.Y. –– The Tompkins County Health Department has now confirmed that the raccoon spotted being touted around with a human companion on State Street Friday does not have rabies.

According to the original advisory released by TCHD, “the raccoon was carried in a bag and the person may have allowed others to pet or handle the young raccoon.”

Officials were concerned that the animal may have been rabid and spreading the illness and asked the public to keep an eye out for the raccoon and its two-legged friend.

TCHD is now thanking the public for their assistance in helping locate the pair in order for proper testing to take place.

“The test results for the raccoon confirmed that the animal did not have rabies and there is no risk of rabies to those who were exposed,” TCHD said in its announcement.

The health department is taking this opportunity to remind the public that no matter how cute a young raccoon may be, the care of injured or orphaned wildlife should only be performed by NYS licensed wildlife rehabilitators.

“Rehabilitators have training and facilities that allow them to safely provide the specialized care for wildlife while preventing transmission of disease to the public,” according to TCHD.

In addition, the health department reminds everyone to:

  1. Avoid contact with any unfamiliar cats or dogs and any wild animals.
  2. All cats, dogs and ferrets must have initial rabies vaccinations administered no later than four months of age.  Keep vaccinations current!
  3. Report the following incidents to the Tompkins County Health Department at 274-6688:
    • All animal bites or scratches.
    • Any human or pet contact with saliva or other potentially infectious material (brain tissue, spinal tissue, or cerebrospinal fluid) of wild animals or any animal suspected of having rabies.
    • All bat bites, scratches, or any mere skin contact with a bat, or a bat in a room with a child, or sleeping or impaired person.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com