July 23, 2007
County Health Department Sponsors Rabies Clinic Aug. 4 at Oswego Town Garage
Reports of rabies increase during the summer months, and whether you live in a rural area, suburb or city, it is natural to be concerned.
“The most effective way to protect yourself and your family from rabies is to have your pets vaccinated,” said Kathleen Smith, Oswego County Public Health Director. “Dogs, cats and pet ferrets are required by law to have a current rabies immunization.”
The Oswego County Health Department's next rabies clinic will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, at the Oswego Town Highway Garage on County Route 7. Pet owners should bring their pet's last rabies certificate to the clinic. The health department requests a $5 donation to help cover the cost of the clinics, but no one will be turned away.
The rabies virus affects the central nervous system, causing paralysis and ultimately death in infected animals. Symptoms include changes in behavior, including aggression and agitation as well as excessive salivation.
Rabies has been present in New York for more than 25 years. The virus can infect any mammal, including dogs, cats, livestock, small wildlife, and humans. The vast majority of rabies cases reported each year occur with wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes.
While the majority of rabies cases involve wild animals, keeping vaccinations current on dogs and cats, including indoor cats, is crucial to prevention. Pets can act as a bridge between a rabid wild animal and person, acquiring the virus through a bite and then bringing the virus into the household.
“Determining an animal's rabies status is essential when there is contact between a potentially rabid animal and a person or pet,” Smith said. Smith said that bats found indoors present a significant risk to people and pets.
“If a bat is found near a sleeping person, young child, or anyone with mental incapacitation, call the County Health Department immediately,” she said. “Bats have such small teeth that their bite can go unnoticed, and people have died from rabies from undetected bat bites.”
Prevention and avoidance are important when dealing with wildlife. Raccoons and skunks are attracted to developed areas and neighborhoods, where they find food sources in garages, compost, gardens, bird feed and pet food. Skunks are particularly fond of white lawn grubs, the larvae of Japanese beetles. Animals also take advantage of man-made shelters such as crawl spaces under garden sheds or decks, with raccoons frequently denning in chimneys and attics that are not capped or sealed. By eliminating artificial food sources and shelter, the chances of encountering raccoons around your home and yard will be greatly reduced.
To help prevent the spread of rabies, people should:
If an animal inflicts a bite or scratch, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for 15 minutes and call your health care provider and the County Health Department at 349-3564 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3564. In an emergency during evenings, weekends or holidays, call the County Health Department's on-call service at 341-0086. Rabies information is also posted on the New York State Department of Health Web site.
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