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.
The county Health Department had about 600 doses of the vaccine on hand at the County Highway Garage.
“Rabies continues to be a threat in Oswego County,” said Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County Public Health Director. “Even though you might not notice it right now, rabies still poses a threat. That’s why we hold these clinics around the county every year.”
The Scriba clinic is always one of the most attended because it is the first one of the year and it is centrally located, he said.
Most of the rabies cases involve wild animals.
“We had one (positive case) in February this year,” Huang told Oswego County Today. “Last year, we had 13 positive – the highest in the past seven years. We had 11 positive animals in 2016 and six in 2015.”
That is why it is so important to have these clinics, to get your pets vaccinated, Huang said, adding, “rabies has reservoirs in wild animals, we need multiple approaches to prevent it.”
• Vaccinating pets and keeping vaccinations up-to-date
• Keeping dogs under direct supervision when they are outdoors and keeping cats and ferrets indoors
• 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 from getting inside
• If pets are bitten by wild animal follow rabies control specialists’ advice, and if a human suspects exposure to rabies contact county health department.
Immunizing your pets is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of human exposures to rabies, the health director said.
“Just one case this year, so far,” he said. “In the past two, three years it started early. Maybe the weather has had something to do with the slow start, I don’t know. I just hope the cases stay low this year.”
Vaccinating pets and keeping their vaccinations up-to-date are important and effective because this builds a buffer zone between humans and wild animals to prevent rabies, he explained.
Also, if people find a bat in their house, catch it, don’t let it go out, he said, explaining that you may have been exposed to rabies.
“If we test and it’s negative, you don’t have to go through shots. If it’s positive you do. So it is better to be safe than sorry,” he said.
All “bat-related” incidents should be reported immediately to the health department’s environmental division. The staff will investigate to determine the threat of exposure to people and pets.
For instructions on how to capture a bat, watch the New York State Department of Health video, “Catch a Bat Safely,” https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies/ or go to https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies/bats/homes.htm.
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.
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.
Upcoming clinics will be held at:
• Pulaski: April 11, 6 to 8 p.m., County Highway Garage, 957 Centerville Road.
• Parish: May 2, 6 to 8 p.m., County Highway Garage, 24 Dill Pickle Alley.
• West Monroe: June 6, 6 to 8 p.m., Town Highway Garage, 46 County Route 11.
• Hannibal: July 11, 6 to 8 p.m., Town Highway Garage, 68 Cemetery Drive.
• Volney: Aug. 8, 6 to 8 p.m., Bristol Hill Landfill maintenance building, 3125 State Route 3.
• Pulaski: Sept. 12, 6 to 8 p.m., County Highway Garage, 957 Centerville Road.
• Scriba: Nov. 7, 6 to 8 p.m., County Highway Garage, 31 Schaad Drive.
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.
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.
For more information, visit