Montgomery County health department gives rabies warning

FONDA — The Montgomery County Public Health reminds everyone that people and unvaccinated animals can get rabies from the bite or scratch of an infected animal or from infected animal saliva entering a person’s eyes, nose, mouth or any break in the skin. Rabies is nearly always fatal if treatment is not received soon after exposure, according to a news release.

Keep the following points in mind:

∫ The prevention of rabies continues to be an important public health concern. Rabies is an infectious disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Rabies is most often seen among wild animals such as raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes. Cats, dogs, ferrets and livestock can also get rabies if they are not vaccinated.

∫ The first sign of rabies is usually a change in the animal’s behavior. It may become unusually aggressive or unusually tame. Staggering, convulsions, spitting, choking, frothing at the mouth and paralysis are sometimes noted. The animal usually dies within one week after showing signs of rabies.

∫ The law requires that one’s pets be vaccinated. The first rabies vaccination is to be given at 3 months of age. One’s pet should receive its second rabies vaccination within one year after the first vaccination and every three years thereafter.

In the event of a bite, scratch, or potential exposure to rabies, the following steps should be taken immediately:

∫ Wash the area of contact thoroughly with soap and water.

∫ Seek medical attention.

∫ Call the local health department to evaluate the risk for rabies, including whether rabies post-exposure treatment is recommended.

∫ Try to capture the animal without damaging its head or risking further exposure. Contact the local health department to have the animal either observed or submitted for testing.

∫ If someone has been exposed to a suspected rabid animal and the animal cannot be observed or tested, or it tests positive for rabies, treatment should begin immediately. Human treatment consists of a dose of rabies immune globulin administered as soon as possible after exposure. The first of four doses of rabies vaccine is given at the same time, with the remaining injections given one each on days 3, 7, and 14 following the initial injection. An additional dose may be given on day 28 if the person is immunocompromised.

To protect your family and your pets from rabies:

∫ Don’t feed, touch, or adopt wild animals, stray dogs or cats.

∫ Be sure pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.

∫ Keep family pets indoors at night.

∫ Don’t attract wild animals to one’s home or yard. Keep garbage cans tightly covered and avoid storing any food outside. If a wild animal is on one’s property, let it wander away. Bring children and pets indoors and alert neighbors who are outside.

∫ Prevent bats, raccoons, and other wild animals from entering homes by sealing small openings, and keeping unscreened doors and windows closed.

∫ A majority of rabies post exposure prophylactic vaccines are given for exposure to bats that were not captured for rabies testing. Most of these untested bats are not rabid therefore many of the post exposure incidents could be avoided completely if the bat were captured for testing. “How to Safely Capture a Bat” can be found on the NYSDOH website at: http://www.nyhealth.gov/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies//

The rabies vaccination clinics will be held throughout Montgomery County on the following dates this year: Sept. 14, (there are two locations for this date); Oct. 12, and Nov. 2. For time and location, or for more information on rabies, contact Montgomery County Public Health from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at (518) 853-3531 or visit the website: http://www.co.montgomery.ny.us/publichealth/.


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