SCRIBA – Hundreds of people took advantage of the first rabies clinic of the year on Wednesday night to safeguard their pets from the rabies virus.
They had about 600 doses of the vaccine on hand at the County Highway Garage.
The Oswego County Health Department will hold more rabies clinics at locations around Oswego County this year. All of them will be held on Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m.
“Rabies continues to be a threat in Oswego County,” said Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County Public Health Director.
Most of the cases involve wild animals, he noted.
“We did have one positive wild animal positive by the end of January this year. So far this is the only one we had this year,” Huang told Oswego County Today. “We had 11 positive animals in 2016 and six in 2015.”
The Oswego County Health Department reported in January that a raccoon tested positive for rabies in the city of Oswego. It was the third case of rabies confirmed in Oswego County since late December 2016.
Two dogs on the west side of Oswego were exposed to a rabid raccoon. Both dogs were up-to-date on their rabies vaccines, but required a rabies booster.
“That is why it is so important to have these clinics, to get your pets vaccinated,” Huang said. “As rabies has reservoirs in wild animals, we need multiple approaches to prevent it.”
These approaches include vaccinating pets and keep vaccination up-to-date, keep dogs under direct supervision when they are outdoor and keep cats and ferrets indoor, call animal control to remove stray animals in the neighborhood, educate children not to play with sick stray animals, seal house well to prevent bats into the house, if pets are bitten by wild animal follow rabies control specialists’ advice, and if a human suspects exposure to rabies contact county health department, he explained.
Immunizing your pets is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of human exposures to rabies, he added.
Vaccinating pets and keeping their vaccination up-to-date are important and effective because this builds a buffer zone between humans and wild animals to prevent rabies.
Some researchers in other countries did show some seasonality in rabies activities, Huang said.
But due to lower human cases in this country and the small geographic area of this county, we have not seen a clear pattern of seasonality, he added.
“We have started to look at our county data in the past several years and try to see any temporal associations between animal positives and human activities,” he said. “This approach might result in some correlations for our education efforts.”
How much impact does the county’s rabies clinics have?
“This is the best and hardest question,” the Public Health Director said. “My previous job was in human immunization (not animal) and I always told people that we do not know exactly which shot prevents which kid from a vaccine-preventable disease. But, we do know that our efforts make vaccine-preventable diseases drastically reduced. As for other impacts, I can list a few, saving residents’ time and money and let our department directly serve our constituents, etc.”
Hundreds of dogs and dozens of cats were vaccinated Wednesday.
There was a suggested donation of $7 (per animal) to help the health department cover the cost of the rabies clinic.
No one was turned away for being unable to pay.
Upcoming clinics will be held at:
• Parish: April 5, 6 to 8 p.m., County Highway Garage, 24 Dill Pickle Alley.
• Pulaski: May 3, 6 to 8 p.m., County Highway Garage, 957 Centerville Road.
• West Monroe: June 7, 6 to 8 p.m., Town Highway Garage, 46 County Route 11.
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. Pet ferrets must be vaccinated annually. Dogs and cats require a second vaccination within one year of the first and every three years thereafter.
The rabies virus can remain active in the environment throughout the year.
The vast majority of rabies cases occur with wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes.
Health officials advise people to be wary of any animals that act abnormally.
Mammals that are aggressive or tame, show no fear of humans, wander aimlessly, are disoriented or appear to be sick or paralyzed could be infected with rabies or other diseases.
People should report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to their local health department.
The Health Department’s environmental team is available around the clock to respond to incidents that involve possible exposure to rabies.
To report a possible exposure or for more information about rabies, call the Oswego County 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.
If it’s determined that an animal needs to be tested for rabies, arrangements are made to have the specimen tested by the New York State Health Department.
If it’s determined there was possible exposure to humans or pets, the health department will advise on the proper treatment procedures.
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