UPDATE  WED, 12:50 P.M. ET: The Oneida County Health Department confirmed the fox that attacked 3 people in Rome was rabid. The animal was killed by a private resident and its remains were sent in for testing at the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center.

Another person has since come forward about being exposed to the fox and is also undergoing post-exposure prophylaxis. This brings the total number of individuals exposed to the animal to four, however, anyone who encountered the rabid fox is now strongly advised to seek immediate treatment as rabies is a fatal disease.

Even if no bite took place, residents are still urged to call and make an appointment.

As Previously Reported

The Oneida County Health Department and Rome Police say 3 people were attacked by the rabid fox around the Mohawk River and Black River Boulevard area over the weekend.

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The health department is also urging those who may have had contact with the fox to contact the OC Health Department and seek post-exposure prophylaxis, as it can save their life.

Said the health department, "Rabies is a deadly disease, and if you become exposed, it is vital to get appropriate care to avoid contracting rabies."

Mount Sinai says those exposed to a rabid animal have at least up to 14 days to receive post-exposure prophylaxis. Rabies is fatal and while there have been claims of humans surviving the disease, scientific papers about these cases have been retracted - thus casting doubt these claims are actually legitimate.

Additionally, authorities are also urging pet owners to ensure their pets' rabies vaccine is up to date amid a troubling rise of this deadly disease in the area.

Rabies on the Rise in New York

County officials are strongly urging residents to learn how to recognize a potentially rabid animal and to teach their children to never play with unknown animals either wild or domestic.

Madison County Department of Health's Aaron Lazzara warned, "We are seeing more rabid animals this year than the last two years combined."

Read More: Kittens Expose 9 People to Rabies in Central New York

Additionally, officials urged pet owners to be aware of the growing number of reports of wild animals infected with rabies and ensure their pets are protected. Recently in Herkimer County, a family dog killed a rabid raccoon.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wildlife accounts for over 90 percent of all reported rabies cases.

Skunks, foxes, raccoons, coyotes, and bats make up the majority of rabies cases in the United States, but the disease is capable of infecting horses, ferrets, cattle and other warm-blooded animals.

Rabies is transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal through its saliva or nervous system tissue. People can get infected if bitten from a rabid animal.

The Oneida County Health Department warned:

If you see an animal, wild or stray, with these signs, do not approach it and stay away. If any animal is acting strangely, call your local animal control officer for help. If you are concerned you may have been exposed to a rabid animal or find a bat in your home, call Oneida County Health Department for guidance.

Signs and symptoms of the disease include drooling or foaming from the mouth, abnormal or aggressive behavior, paralysis, seizures, difficulty swallowing, and self-mutilation.

The disease is always fatal, which is why officials stress the importance of vaccinating your pets against rabies. It's also the law.

What's New York's law on rabies vaccines?

New York mandates all pet owners vaccinate their dogs, cats, and ferrets by the time they're 4-months old.

Even if you have an indoor only pet, vaccinating it will protect your animal if it ever slips outside and encounters a sick animal.

Rabies Clinic in Clark Mills, NY
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Per Herkimer County officials:

Herkimer County Public Health would like to remind the public to please check your pets’ rabies vaccination records to make sure that they are up to date. If they are not up to date, make an appointment with their vet or Public Health as soon as possible to have them vaccinated against rabies.

If an unvaccinated pet is bitten by a rabid animal, it will need to be euthanized immediately as the disease is 100% fatal. There is also no USDA-licensed treatment or cure for rabies in unvaccinated domestic animals.

Lazzara noted that vaccinating your pets does more than protect them against the virus.

"We never want anyone to have to make a decision to euthanize an unvaccinated family pet that came in contact with a rabid animal," he said.

There are several pet rabies clinics scheduled in Central NY in the new year, but dates and locations have yet to be announced.

Read More: Rabid Fox Bites Elderly Woman & 2 Kids in Upstate New York

Appointments are required. And while the clinics are free, the department requests a $10 donation per pet to assist with costs.

To learn more about these clinics or find one closest to you, contact the Oneida County Health Department at 315- 798-5064 or log onto our web site at ocgov.net/rabies.

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