All About Armonk

North Castle Daily News

What to Do When Exposed to Rabies

August 19, 2017
Of the two hundred incidents reported to the North Castle Police Department last week, three calls reported were bat invasions in two different homes in Windmill Farm, and one from the North Castle Farm area. All the calls were received around 9:00 p.m. on three different nights.

The police responded and reported that at one of the homes a bat was captured and secured in the homeowner’s freezer to allow the complainant to follow up with theWestchester Department of Health.

While rabies is carried mainly by wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes, dogs and cats may also carry rabies. Westchester Department of Health reminds everyone to be sure your pet’s rabies vaccines are up to date, especially during the warmer months when the risk of exposure to other animals increases.

The Westchester Department of Health recommends that everyone should stay away from wild animals, and bats are no exception. Secure your doors, windows, and close off any small openings that will allow an animal into your house.

Rabies is a deadly virus that lives in saliva and can spread through bites, scratches, and other contact with an infected animal. If you are bitten, scratched or have some other exposure, immediately wash the area with warm soapy water and call your doctor or hospital.

The Department of Health says to check your home’s soffits and attic vents, and be sure they are tightly screened. Bats may roost in your attic, barn or even inside a closed patio umbrella. If a bat is in your house, there’s a chance that your family and pet could be exposed to rabies. If your pet or family member is exposed, the bat should be tested for rabies. This can help determine if a series of rabies shots are necessary.

The Westchester Department of Health advises to capture any bat in your home. Do not to let a bat fly out the window. If a bat is caught, its brain can be tested for rabies. “If a bat gets inside, capture and contain it safely,” (view a 80-second video on how to safely capture a bat ), and then call the 24-hour Westchester Health Department hotline immediately at 914-813-5000.

To capture a bat, you’ll need a pair of gloves, a coffee can, a stiff piece of cardboard, strong tape, and a bit of bravery.

Follow these instructions:
Turn on the room lights, and close all windows and doors. Wait for the bat to land, and while wearing gloves, place the coffee can, pail, or container over the bat.

Quickly slide the piece of cardboard under the container to trap the bat. Holding the cardboard tightly, turn the container right side up. Then tape the cardboard tightly to the container. Once you have caught the bat, call the Department of Health’s 24-hour help line.

If the bat is tested as rabid, life-saving vaccines for anyone exposed must begin soon. To prevent deaths from rabies, Westchester Department of Health offers immunization clinics for cats and dogs three time a year, and facilitates with the testing of suspected animals.

Frank Contacessa, M.D.
Frank Contacessa, M.D.

Exceptional Care from Small Town Doctors
By Jackson Harrower

June 27, 2016

Donald Cohen and Frank Contacessa run a medical practice at 16 Orchard Drive, Armonk. Dr. Cohen opened the practice in 1986 and the two doctors have been working together for 11 years.

Dr. Contacessa, a Byram Hills graduate, said what is special about practicing medicine in a small town environment is the relationship with the patient. “I see three generations of some families. By knowing someone and their history I can give them better care. The patients appreciate that and it’s a great environment for the doctors to work in too.”

The practice primarily services Armonk residents, but Dr. Contacessa treats former Armonk residents who live as far away as North Carolina. He notes, “When people are comfortable they like to stay.” Dr. Contacessa’s ability to provide exceptional care may stem from his lifelong devotion to medicine. He says, “I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was five. I love what I do.”

What advice would Dr. Contacessa give to a graduating Byram Hills senior who is interested in medicine? “Medicine is a field that you don’t go into unless you’re sure because it’s too hard, the training takes too long, and the monetarily rewards aren’t what they used to be 25 years ago. You need to go into this field for the love of medicine.”

The practice is currently joining the Northwell Health system. Dr. Contacessa looks forward to the future: “The deal will allow us the benefits of being part of a larger entity while still providing the personalized care of a small town practice. They takes care of the administrative work and we focus on patient care.”

Primary care doctors are a diminishing breed in medicine. Most young doctors are specializing due to the appeal of larger salaries, but Dr. Contacessa is proud to serve the community as an internist. He says, “We can treat 90 percent of the patients that walk in the door.”

Both Dr. Cohen and Dr. Contacessa not only work in Armonk, but are Armonk residents. They take pride in being accessible and they care for their patients as neighbors and friends. Dr. Contacessa adds, “We sit with every patient before the examination to talk about their health and find out what's going on.” Attention to detail and a genuine caring for each patient results in exceptional medical care.

Lyme Disease Bites in Westchester
By Frank Contacessa, MD

April 26, 2016
Spring and summer are upon us, and that means that it’s time for the perennial threat and concern about Lyme Disease. This tick-borne infection has become an unfortunate part of life in suburban Westchester. In our local practice, we see many cases during the summer months. In talking to patients, I have noticed that there are a lot of misconceptions about Lyme, so I thought that it would be worthwhile to give some basic facts about Lyme, and lay out what you should do if you find a tick or think that you have Lyme.

1. If you find a tick: First of all, don’t panic. The rule of thumb when removing them is to try to get them out whole and alive. You don’t want to try to burn them out or suffocate them. It only makes them upset and more likely to share their stomach contents (including the Lyme bacteria) with you. You want to use a sharp pair of tweezers, grab them as close to the skin as possible, and gently but steadily pull. Don’t yank on it, it will break apart. It may take up to a few minutes, but eventually it will get tired and let go.

2. Call your doctor: It takes 24-36 hours for an attached tick to transmit the bacteria. If you are reasonably sure that it has been there for less than a day, there is little chance that you will contract Lyme. If you’re not sure, or if it has been there for a while, your doctor can prescribe a preventative dose of antibiotics. Don’t wait too long though, they are most effective when taken early.

3. Watch for symptoms: Early symptoms include fever, chills, muscle and joint aches, headaches, and of course the famous “bull’s eye” rash. Many patients say that the felt like they were “coming down with something”, then got better. Not all patients get a rash, and many never notice the tick that bit them. You should always tell your doctor about any new or unusual symptoms.

4. Testing and treatment: We often have patients find and remove a tick, then rush in to the office asking to have blood test for Lyme. It can take up to 4-6 weeks for the test to be able to detect a current Lyme infection. There is no point to endure a needle stick (no pun intended). Your doctor will decide whether or not you need to be treated after talking to you and examining you. Lyme responds well to antibiotics, and should not be a concern after treatment. It does not “stay in your body” like certain viruses can. Once you’re treated, you can forget about it.

Lyme disease is here to stay, but it doesn’t have to put a damper on your summer.

Donald Cohen, MD and Frank Contacessa, MD are physicians of Internal Medicine
with Westchester Health located at 16 Orchard Drive, Armonk.
(914) 273-3404.