Modified: August 31, 2016 9:16am
From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein
Date August 31, 2016
CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov
Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925
3 Free Rabies Clinics in September
Increase in Rabid Animals Enforces Need for All Pets to be Vaccinated
ERIE COUNTY, NY— The Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”), in collaboration with the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society, the Medaille College Veterinary Technology program and the SPCA serving Erie County, is holding the last of 2016’s free Rabies Vaccination clinics on three dates and sites in September. Residents are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this oppor
tunity to ensure their pet dogs, cats and ferrets are protected against rabies. New York State law requires rabies vaccinations for all cats, dogs and domesticated ferrets no later than
four months after their dates of birth.
“Rabies remains a very serious disease as it is nearly always fatal once symptoms are evident,” stated Dr. Gale R. Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health. “Residents should always remain very cautious around wildlife or domestic animals as no one can tell if an animal has rabies. Rabid animals can exhibit behavior that ranges from normal to lethargic, aggressive, or overly friendly.”
It is equally important to vaccinate both “indoor” and “indoor/outdoor” cats since potential rabies exposure can occur both inside and outside the home. Bats, which have a high incidence of rabies, commonly find their way into homes through small openings. Raccoons are extremely clever at finding ways inside buildings in a search for food. In addition, there is always the chance that an “indoor-only” cat will sneak outdoors through an open window or door.
“Although the majority of the rabid animals we see in Erie County are wildlife, unvaccinated pets can be at risk of being infected if come in contact with a rabid animal,” said Peter Tripi, Senior Public Health Sanitarian. “This year’s unusually mild winter has led to an increase in rabid animals. This summer a rabid cat exposed several members of a household to rabies. Erie County is also experiencing a greater number of rabies-infected bats and raccoons. If you love your pets, please take advantage of our free clinics to ensure all your pets, including both “outdoor” and “indoor” cats are vaccinated against the rabies virus.”
Testing an animal for rabies requires euthanizing the animal to test brain tissue. If a pet bites a person, it must be confined and observed for ten days, possibly at the owner’s expense, to avoid testing for rabies. A six-month quarantine is required when an animal comes in contact with a confirmed or suspected rabid animal. Vaccinating our pets not only protects them from rabies, but also our family and friends, and protects individuals from the need to receive post-exposure anti-rabies vaccinations.
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