The Oswego County Health Department continues to investigate reports of rabies during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, there have been 10 cases of confirmed rabies in wildlife within the county.
In February, rabid racoons were reported in the towns of Granby, Oswego and Scriba. In March, rabid racoons were reported in the towns of Palermo and Volney. So far in April, there have been two rabid raccoons and a rabid gray fox in the town of Scriba, a rabid racoon in the town of Hannibal and a rabid fisher in the town of Boylston.
Judy Grandy, director of the Oswego County Health Department’s Environmental Division, said, “People may see more wildlife now that they are staying home during this COVID-19 pandemic. If anyone sees an animal that appears to be threatening people or pets, they should call the Oswego County Health Department’s Environmental Division. Our rabies prevention program continues to be available 24/7 to investigate cases of potential rabies exposure.”
All animal bites, whether from a domestic animal or wildlife, should be reported to the health department as soon as possible. To report an animal bite or seek guidance concerning potential exposures to rabies, call 315-349-3557, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.; or call 315-341-0086 after regular business hours, weekends and holidays.
Eight domestic animals received their rabies booster shots and four people were treated for possible exposure to the rabies virus due to the most recent rabies investigations. The rabies virus remains active throughout the year and is nearly always fatal to mammals if left untreated.
Chris Williams, associate public health sanitarian of the Oswego County Health Department’s Environmental Division, warns residents to avoid wild animals, especially raccoons, bats, skunks or foxes. He said, “Wildlife is always best enjoyed from a safe distance. Keep your children and pets indoors if you see a wild animal. Generally, the animals will go away on their own. If that doesn’t happen, you can call the health department’s environmental division for guidance.”
The Oswego County Health Department offers these precautionary tips:
- Don’t feed, touch or adopt wild or stray animals.
- Don’t attract animals to your home or yard. Keep a tight lid on garbage cans.
- Feed pets indoors and don’t leave them outdoors unattended.
- Most importantly, vaccinate your dogs, cats and ferrets.
The Oswego County Health Department canceled its scheduled rabies clinics in March and April due to the coronavirus crisis.
Williams said, “Keeping your pet up to date on its vaccinations is still the best way to protect you, your family and pets against the disease. It builds a buffer zone between the virus and humans.
“We hope to reschedule these clinics as soon as it is safe to do so. Until then, if your pet is overdue on its rabies vaccination, please contact your veterinarian to schedule an appointment.”
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