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June 24, 2013

Oswego County Health Department Warns of Rabies

OSWEGO - The Oswego County Health Department announces June is Rabies Awareness Month in New York State. The staff is working with the NYS Department of Health to raise public awareness about the dangers of rabies.

"Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system," said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang. "People usually get exposed to the rabies virus when an infected animal bites them; however, exposure may also occur if saliva from a rabid animal enters an open cut or mucous membrane, such as the eyes, nose or mouth."

Rabies is most often seen among wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes, although any mammal can be infected with rabies.

Huang said, "With the nicer weather and school's break for summer vacation, children and pets are more active outdoors. Adults need to be aware of the risk of exposure if they come into contact with wild animals."

To reduce the risk of exposure to rabies and the high cost of treatment after human exposure to the virus, residents should:

Although any mammal can pose a potential threat for rabies, bats tend to pose a greater threat because it can be difficult to confirm if a person has come into contact with a bat.

Huang said, "Sometimes, people may not know if they have been bitten by a bat because most types of bats have very small teeth and their marks may disappear quickly."

According to NYS Department of Health protocol, if someone finds a bat indoors and cannot say for certain that there was definitely no contact with a person or a pet, it is very important for them to try to safely capture the bat and bring it in to the local health department for rabies testing.

The same precautions should be used if a bat is found in a room with an unattended child or someone with a mental impairment.

The Oswego County Health Department advises residents to:

For more information about rabies or bats call the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3557.

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