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Rabies caution: don’t touch dead animals

MONTAGUE — Following the appearance of several animals that died of unknown causes, the town’s director of public health would like to remind residents not to touch dead things.

Director of Public Health Gina McNeely said residents have reported finding two dead skunks and a dead fox in recent weeks, and in light of last December’s rabid fox attack, cautions residents not to touch any animals they may find.

“I think it is important to remind people, especially parents, to educate their children to stay away from wild animals whether they are dead or alive,” McNeely said. “It is always a concern when there is a dead animal found in a neighborhood because of the potential for exposure.”

McNeely said the state lab policy is not to test dead animals that have had no contact with humans, so it is not known what the animals died of, but she said it is unusual to receive three calls in the space of two weeks.

“The important thing is not to have any contact with the fur or saliva, because that’s where the rabies will be,” McNeely said.

Rabies can transmit through saliva to even microscopic cuts, and animals lick their fur, McNeely said.

McNeely advises residents who see sick animals to call the police, and to notify her office at 413-863-3200, ext. 205 if they should find them dead.

To dispose of the corpse, McNeely advises burying it or placing it in two trash bags for trash pickup.

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