For Immediate Release - August 02, 2013

Public Health Alert Regarding Six Flags New England in Agawam

DPH advises individuals who may have had physical contact with skunk

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is advising individuals who may have come in contact with a skunk at Six Flags New England in Agawam to contact DPH.

On July 31, a woman was visiting Six Flags New England. She observed a group of three skunks, one of whom approached and bit her on the foot. The animal was submitted to the Hinton State Laboratory Institute and has tested positive for rabies. Anyone who visited the park and was bitten or scratched by a skunk between July 21 and July 31 may have been exposed to rabies and should contact their healthcare provider immediately. Only people with direct exposure to skunk saliva are at risk for rabies.

Without proper treatment for rabies exposure, rabies can develop and the infection is virtually always fatal. Fortunately, rabies can be prevented by prompt administration of post-exposure vaccination. Public health authorities can help determine whether any contact with this animal constitutes an exposure requiring vaccination.

If you have any questions regarding these recommendations, please contact the DPH, Division of Epidemiology and Immunization at 617-983-6800.

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