The first rabid animal attack of 2019 has been confirmed in Chautauqua County, according to a news release from county officials Tuesday.

A youth turkey hunter was attacked on April 21 near Open Meadows Rd. in the Town of North Harmony.

The raccoon latched onto a heavy jacket and got all the way through to inflict a bite, the news release said.

The youth was able to fling the raccoon off of himself, which allowed his father to shoot the racoon.

“This incident should serve as a reminder to residents, particularly outdoor enthusiasts (hikers, hunters, etc.), that animal rabies is a serious public health concern and continues to be present in Chautauqua County,” said Mark Stow, County Director of Environmental Health Services. “Raccoons are, by far, the animal most likely to be rabid in the state.” 

Rabies is nearly always fatal when exposure is missed and untreated.

Health officials said preventing rabies in pets is the first line of defense. New York State law requires all dogs, cats, and domesticated ferrets be vaccinated against rabies at 4 months of age.