HASTINGS – The Oswego County Health Department reported today (Nov. 6) that a skunk in the town of Hastings has tested positive for the rabies virus.
Health officials remind residents to make sure their pet dogs, cats and ferrets are protected against rabies and to take steps to avoid attracting wild animals around the home.
Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County Public Health Director, said the rabies virus remains active throughout the year.
“Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals that is transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal,” said Huang. “Fall is the time of year that young skunks disperse from their dens, and we often see an increase in rabid skunks during the fall months.”
There are many steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of rabies in animals and humans:
– The rabies vaccination is the most effective way of protecting pets and humans from rabies.
– Make sure children learn basic rules about protecting themselves from strange and unfamiliar animals.
– Do not feed pets outdoors.
– Never try to feed a wild animal.
– Do not approach or touch unfamiliar animals.
– Avoid any animal with symptoms of rabies.
– Block any openings into your house that an animal may get in through.
– Keep tamper-proof lids on outside garbage cans so animals are not attracted to your property.
Pets must be at least three months old to receive a rabies shot.
The first shot protects the animal from rabies for one year.
Subsequent shots last for three years. Pet owners should bring their pet’s rabies vaccination record to the clinic.
Any time a person or pet comes in contact with a sick or suspicious-acting animal, the incident should be reported to the county health department as soon as possible.
A bite or scratch on the skin should be washed immediately with soap and water.
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.