Be aware of the threat of rabies

Montgomery County Public Health wants to remind 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, according to a news release.

Rabies is nearly always fatal if treatment is not received soon after exposure. With warmer weather around, pets, people and wildlife will be out doors more often and the potential for interaction will be increasing. Please keep the following points in mind:

∫ 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 your pets be vaccinated. The first rabies vaccination is to be given at 3-months of age. Your pet should receive its second rabies vaccination within one year after the first vaccination and every 3 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 your local health department to evaluate your 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 your 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 4 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 your pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.

∫ Keep family pets indoors at night.

∫ Don’t attract wild animals to your home or yard. Keep garbage cans tightly covered and avoid storing any food outside. If a wild animal is on your 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 bats were captured for testing. “How to Safely Capture a Bat” can be found on the NYSDOH website at:

Rabies Vaccinations Clinics will be held throughout Montgomery County on the following dates in 2017:

Aug. 1 and 12; Sept. 16; Oct. 14 and Nov. 4.

For time and location, or for more information on rabies contact Montgomery County Public Health, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (518) or visit its website at

By Patricia Older

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