MEXICO – The Oswego County Health Department reported today (June 3) that a bat found in a town of Mexico home has tested positive for rabies.
As a result, the health department is investigating family members to determine if there have been any exposures to the bat.
Also, three house cats must be placed in six-month quarantine as a result of their exposures.
The bat was found in a room surrounded by the family’s three cats. The cats had not received rabies shots.
Bats are a common carrier of rabies, and even cats that are not allowed to go outside can be exposed to rabies if a bat or other rabid animal enters the home.
“Bats can end up in the home and expose pets and people to rabies,” said Jiancheng Huang, Director of the Oswego County Health Department. “Cats are more at risk of contracting rabies from a rabid bat because they can catch bats. All cats should be vaccinated, even if they’re considered indoor pets.”
Huang 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 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.
If a bat is found in the home, the health department advises residents to capture the bat so it may be tested for rabies.
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/
“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 occurred, instead of letting exposed people experience multiple shots for prophylaxis.”
The spread of rabies typically increases in late spring and early summer when animals are having their young and wildlife populations are increasing.
Cases of rabies were also recently confirmed in Onondaga and Jefferson counties.
New York State law requires that all cats, dogs, and ferrets be vaccinated against rabies.
The first rabies vaccine should be given at three months of age.
Ferrets require an annual vaccination.
For dogs and cats, 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.
The next rabies clinic will be July 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Hannibal Town Highway Garage, 68 Cemetery Drive, Hannibal.
Additional clinics will be held:
– Volney: Aug. 3, 6 to 8 p.m., Bristol Hill Landfill maintenance garage, 3125 State Route 3.
– Parish: Sept. 7, 6 to 8 p.m., County Highway Garage, 24 Dill Pickle Alley.
– Pulaski: Oct. 5, 6 to 8 p.m., County Highway Garage, 957 Centerville Road.
– Scriba: Nov. 2, 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 carrier.
Any time a person or pet is bitten by a domestic or wild animal, and any time that a person or pet comes in physical contact with a bat or 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.