Oswego County Health Department urges residents to be aware of wildlife to guard against rabies infection – Oswego County Today

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OSWEGO COUNTY – The Oswego County Health Department is raising awareness of the dangers of the rabies virus and reminding residents what to do when they encounter wildlife, whether indoors or outdoors. the outside.

“Wild animals have given birth to their babies,” said Vera Dunsmoor, acting director of public health for Oswego County. “Sometimes these cute baby animals wander away from their mothers and wander into backyards and barns or onto porches, prompting people to grab them and make them their own. We urge people to leave them alone. because they can expose you and your family members to a deadly disease like rabies.

It is important to report all domestic and wild animal bites or contact with wildlife to the Environmental Division of the Oswego County Health Department as soon as possible. Call 315-349-3564 weekdays or 315-341-0086 evenings and weekends.

“Any potential contact with a wild or domestic animal should be reported immediately,” said Judy Grandy, director of environmental health for the Oswego County Health Department. “Staff will investigate to determine the threat of exposure to people and pets.”

Oswego County Associate Public Health Sanitizer Chris Williams added that bat encounters are more common during warm summer months.

“If you wake up because a bat landed on you while you were sleeping, or if you wake up and find a bat in your bedroom, you should try to capture it safely, without you expose more, and get it tested,” he said. . “This also applies if you find a bat in a room with an unsupervised child or someone with a mental disability. Basically, if a bat is found indoors and there is a chance that it has come into contact with a person or pet, it is extremely important not to release it.

To learn how to catch a bat, watch the New York State Department of Health’s video, “Catch a Bat Safely,” at https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies/.

Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system. It is most commonly seen in wild animals such as bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes, although any mammal can be infected with the disease, including humans and pets .

People are usually exposed to the rabies virus through the bite of an infected animal. however, exposure can also occur if a rabid animal’s saliva enters an open cut or mucous membrane such as the eyes, nose, or mouth.

To minimize the risk of exposure to rabies, people should be wary of animals that act abnormally. Unusual actions include aggressive or tame behavior, no fear of humans, aimless wandering, or appearing disoriented.

The Department of Health has offered these tips to further reduce the risk of exposure to the rabies virus:

  • DO NOT pick up, touch or feed wild animals or stray dogs and cats. Wild or feral animals, including their babies, can be rabid. Teach children to do the same.
  • If a wild animal is on your property, come inside and let it go.
  • Keep pets and livestock up to date on their vaccinations.
  • Do not let animals loose and bring them indoors at night.

Grandy reminds pet owners that all dogs, cats and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies. “Even animals that stay indoors can be exposed to rabies through a bite or scratch from a rabid bat,” she said. “Vaccinating your pets is the most effective protection against the rabies virus.”

The Oswego County Health Department is hosting its next rabies clinic from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, September 14 at the Minetto Volunteer Fire Department on Barrett Drive. The phone line will open the week before to make appointments.

Williams said the rabies virus is active year-round. “We are seeing more rabies activity because people are outdoors in hot weather, but they need to be aware of wildlife and the dangers of rabies all year round,” he warned.

Dunsmoor agreed: “We all want to be outside in the yard or enjoying outdoor activities like hiking and camping now that summer is in full swing. We just need to be aware of our surroundings and take appropriate precautions around stray and wild animals. »

For more information on rabies, visit the Oswego County Health Department website at https://health.oswegocounty.com/programs/environmental1/rabies_program2.php or the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/index.html.

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