New York residents who had contact with a young bear in a petting zoo in northeastern Iowa may be at risk for rabies, state Health Department officials said Thursday.
The alert was issued after a 6-month-old black bear named Chief died of rabies Aug. 27 at the Wild Midwest Petting Zoo in Clermont, Iowa.
Most of the zoo's visitors were from the Midwest, but zoo officials believe at least several New Yorkers could have been exposed to the rabid animal. Two people from Long Island have been notified, officials said.
People who were exposed to the animal after July 31 should seek help immediately from local health departments or doctors, Health Department spokeswoman Kristine Smith said.
Rabies, a viral disease that affects the central nervous system, can be transmitted when the saliva of an infected animal comes in contact with a person's mouth, eyes, nose or open cuts. Once symptoms appear, the disease is fatal.
Officials recommended that those deemed at risk should get post-exposure treatment within 10 days before the onset of symptoms.