New York City Department of Health
and Mental Hygiene
Office of Communications
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Sandra Mullin/Greg Butler
Thursday, November 21, 2002
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE ISSUES RABIES ALERT AFTER BRONX KITTEN TESTS POSITIVE FOR RABIES
All Persons Who Have Come into Contact with Kittens from 99-Cent Discount Store at 1714 University Avenue in the Morris Heights Section of the Bronx Should Contact DOHMH Immediately
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) announced today that test results received last night on a kitten obtained from a 99-Cent Discount Store at 1714 University Avenue in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx has tested positive for rabies. This discount store closed on October 18 and is no longer in business. As other kittens from this litter should be considered at high risk for rabies, anyone who may have come into contact with kittens at this location since September of 2002 should contact DOHMH's Poison Control Center immediately at 212-POISONS (764-7667), or for Spanish speakers 212-VENENOS (836-3667), to determine whether treatment is necessary. Currently two individuals known to have been bitten or scratched by the kitten are receiving rabies treatment. None of these individuals have developed symptoms of rabies, and there have been no reports of any individuals with rabies-related illness associated with this animal.
In mid-October, a Bronx-woman obtained two kittens from the discount store located on University Avenue. The kitten's owner reported that she kept one kitten – which died from rabies – and gave the second kitten to a male acquaintance in her neighborhood. The woman did not provide identifying information for this individual other than the fact that he is male. As this second kitten is considered at high-risk for rabies, DOHMH is canvassing the neighborhood to identify the individual in possession of the second kitten and others who may have been exposed to kittens from the discount store. Additionally, a medical alert is being sent to area hospitals and physicians.
In general, all New Yorkers are advised to make sure that their dogs and cats are vaccinated against rabies. Any animal exhibiting abnormal behavior such as: becoming suddenly aggressive or withdrawn, increased drooling or foaming at the mouth, staring into space, or paralysis should be reported to the Center for Animal Care and Control immediately at (718) 649-8600.
Information About Rabies
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It can be transmitted from an infected animal to other animals or humans through a bite, scratch, or saliva contact with broken skin or mucous membranes. Symptoms usually appear between three weeks and twelve weeks after being scratched or bitten by an infected animal. Early symptoms include irritability, headache, muscle aches, and fever. The disease eventually progresses to paralysis, spasms of the throat muscles, convulsions, delirium, and death. Rabies is not spread from person-to-person.
There has not been a case of human rabies in New York City in over 50 years. If treatment is obtained promptly following a bite or a scratch from a rabid animal, most cases of rabies will be prevented. However, untreated cases will always result in death. Treatment of a possible rabies exposure requires prompt washing of the wound area with soap and copious amounts of water, followed by the administration of rabies immune globulin and five doses of rabies vaccine administered into the arm muscles on days 0, 3, 7, 14 and 28 after exposure.
If you believe you had contact with an animal from 1714 University Avenue in the Bronx, please call DOHMH's Poison Control Center immediately at 212-POISONS (764-7667) – 212-VENENOS (836-3667) for Spanish speakers. For more information on rabies, visit nyc.gov/health.