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The Danger of Rabies


With the arrival of summer, pets are more likely to be outside, risking exposure to wild animals that may be infected with rabies.  Rabies is an often deadly viral infection, primarily of animals, including wild and domestic animals and human beings.  Although people usually associate rabies with dogs, among domesticated animals in the U.S., rabies is more likely to be found in cats.  Among wild animals, the disease is most often reported in skunks and raccoons although it is also commonly found in bats, foxes and rodents. All dogs and cats over 3 months of age are required to be vaccinated against rabies. Veterinarians can vaccinate dogs and cats at any time during the year.  The animals require vaccination again within one year after the initial dose and every three years thereafter.  Barn cats and stray dogs should be captured and vaccinated or turned over to the animal control officer in the town in which they live.

Free rabies clinics are held throughout Otsego County by the Otsego County Health Department.  A list of these with locations can be found in our news section.

The rabies virus, present in the saliva of an infected animal, is usually spread by a bite or scratch that punctures the skin.  If a person or domestic animal is exposed (bitten, scratched, or an open would contaminated) by a suspect wild animal or if a wild animal appears to be a threat or is acting strangely, leave it alone, do not let pets near it and call the Department of Environmental Control (607-652-7367 or 607-652-2401) to remove the animal. If you destroy the animal do not touch it.  Use plastic bags and gloves and call the Department of Environmental control for removal.

Wildlife control officers and veterinarians can prepare the animal for submission to the New York State Health Department for testing. Animal bite reports, questions and specimen submission should all go to the Otsego County Public Health Nursing Service, 197 Main Street, County Building Annex, Cooperstown, NY 13326. Their telephone numbers are 607-432-4410 or 607-547-4230.  For nighttime or weekend emergencies the number is 607-432-4410, ask for the supervising nurse.

No matter where the wound or other contamination, authorities emphasize that the first and most valuable preventative measure is thorough cleaning of the site with soap and water, scrubbing for at least 5 minutes.  Seek immediate medical attention if there is any chance of exposure. In the British Isles, France, Japan and Australia, rabies has been eradicated.  Please make sure your pets are vaccinated and their vaccinations are up to date so that in the future, this deadly disease can be eradicated in this country.


5082-5088 State Highway 28
5082-5088 State Highway 28
Cooperstown, NY
Cooperstown, NY

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