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 must be vaccinated annually. Dogs and cats require a second vaccination within one year of the first, and every three years thereafter.
Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said the rabies virus remains active throughout the year and can infect all mammals including humans. The virus is fatal to mammals.
"Most of our rabies cases involve people or domestic animals coming in contact with rabid wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes," said Huang. "Immunizing pets greatly reduces the risk of human exposure to rabies and is the most effective way to protect humans and their pets from the disease."
In order for pets to receive the 3-year booster shot, owners need to show that the pet was previously vaccinated. Owners should bring their pet’s last rabies vaccination certificate with them to the clinic.
The health department suggests a $7 donation per animal to help cover the cost of the rabies clinic, but no one will be turned away. Dogs should be leashed and cats and ferrets should be in a carrier. Please leave sick pets at home.
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 reduce the risk of rabies in animals and humans, people should take the following steps:
- Make sure that dogs, cats and ferrets have current rabies vaccines. The rabies vaccination is the most effective way of protecting pets and humans from rabies.
- 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 the home that an animal may get through.
- Keep tamper-proof lids on outside garbage cans so animals are not attracted to your property.
- Teach children basic rules about protecting themselves from strange and unfamiliar animals.
To report a possible exposure, or for more information about rabies, call the Oswego County Health Department weekdays at 315-349-3564. In an emergency during evenings, weekends, or holidays, call the health department’s answering service at 315-341-0086.
For more information visit www.oswegocounty.com/health/rabies.pdf or facebook.com/Oswegocountyhealth/