HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A raccoon trapped on Long Island is the first confirmed case of rabies in Nassau County since 2007.

The raccoon was collected earlier this week by a wildlife trapper in Hicksville and was sent to the state Health Department for testing.

County health spokeswoman Mary Ellen Laurain told Newsday authorities were surprised by the finding and will step up monitoring and testing in the area. County and state health officials are discussing what additional steps to take in response to the finding.

Rabies is transmitted by the bite of a rabid animal or when the saliva of a rabid animal comes into contact with cut, open, or scratched skin lesions, officials said.

Authorities are urging residents to take the following precautions:

• Keep pets on a leash and keep livestock confined in the evenings.
• Verify that your pets have current rabies vaccination.
• Do not touch or have contact with any animal other than your own.
• Do not touch dying or dead animals. If you must move them, use a shovel, wear heavy rubber gloves and double bag the carcass.
• Advise your family against approaching any unknown animal — wild or domestic — especially those acting in an unusual way.
• Instruct your children to tell you immediately if they were bitten or scratched by any animal.
• Notify the Health Department if a bat is found in a room where adults or children were sleeping, or if an adult enters a room and finds a bat with a child.
• Do not feed unknown animals and discourage them from seeking food near your home.
• Keep garbage cans tightly covered and avoid storing any food outside.

Residents that see a dead raccoon or come across suspicious wildlife are asked to contact the Nassau County Department of Health at 516-227-9663.

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