June 30, 2015
GRANBY - The Oswego County Health Department announced June 26 that a bat captured in the town of Granby has tested positive for rabies. Bats are a common carrier of rabies, said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang. He advises people to try to avoid any contact with bats, especially one that is outdoors during daylight, on the ground, or appears to be paralyzed.
"If a person or pet has any physical contact with a bat, or if you're not sure whether contact occurred, precautions need to be taken immediately," said Huang. "The incident must be investigated as soon as possible to determine if any person or domestic pet may have been exposed to the rabies virus. If the possibility of an exposure cannot be ruled out, it would be necessary to begin the post exposure treatment. If the bat isn't captured, or if it tests positive for rabies, any person, cat, dog or pet ferret that may have been exposed must receive rabies shots as soon as possible."
Bats rarely attack humans, but any physical contact with a rabid bat may transmit rabies. In some situations, such as when a bat is found in a room with a sleeping person, or next to an unattended young child or pet, a bat bite may not be detected.
"Our staff is available around the clock to respond to incidents that involve possible exposure to a rabid animal," said Huang. "If we determine that the animal needs to be tested, we will make arrangements to send it to the state Health Department laboratory near Albany. I ask residents to catch and keep the bat if they find a bat indoors and suspect the bat might have contacted people. This way we can have the animal tested, if our department specialists determine that possible exposures have happened, instead of letting exposed people experience multiple shots for prophylaxis."
The state Department of Health has developed a short video with instructions on how to safely capture a bat indoors. To view the video, go to http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies/.
New York State law requires that all cats, dogs, and pet ferrets be vaccinated against rabies. The first rabies vaccine should be given at three months of age. A second vaccination is required within one year of the first, and every three years thereafter. In order for pets to receive the 3-year booster shot, owners need to show that the pet was previously vaccinated, and should bring their pet's last rabies vaccination certificate to the clinic.
Rabies clinics will be held at these locations around Oswego County during the summer and fall months:
- Williamstown: Wednesday, July 8, 6 to 8 p.m., Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department, State Route 13. (Note change in location.)
- Volney: Wednesday, Aug. 5, 6 to 8 p.m., Bristol Hill Landfill, state Route 3.
- Granby: Wednesday, Sept. 9, 6 to 8 p.m., Town Highway Garage, County Route 8. (New location.)
- Pulaski: Wednesday, Oct. 7, 6 to 8 p.m., County Highway Garage, 957 Centerville Road.
- Scriba: Wednesday, Nov. 4, 6 to 8 p.m., County Highway Garage, 31 Schaad Drive.
The health department suggests a $7 donation per animal to help cover the cost of the rabies clinics, but no one will be turned away. Dogs should be leashed and cats and pet ferrets should be in a cage.
Any time a person or pet comes in physical contact with a bat or wild animal, especially a sick or suspicious-acting animal, the incident should be immediately reported to the County Health Department. To report a possible exposure, or for more information about rabies, call the Health Department weekdays at 349-3564 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3564. In an emergency during evenings, weekends, or holidays, call the health department's answering service at 341-0086.
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