ORWELL — Three dogs were exposed to the rabies virus in late August when they met up with a rabid raccoon in the town of Orwell, the Oswego County Health Department announced today. Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County Public Health Director, said the three dogs had current rabies vaccinations and were given rabies booster shots as a precautionary measure.
The raccoon was confirmed to be rabid after testing by the state Department of Health. The incident occurred near county Route 22, south of the hamlet of Orwell, Aug. 30.
Huang said the incident underscores the need for pet owners to make sure their dogs, cats and ferrets have current rabies vaccinations.
“The rabies virus can remain active in the environment throughout the year,” said Huang. “The majority of rabies cases occur when a wild animal such as a raccoon, skunk, bat or fox encounters a household pet. We advise people to be wary of any animals that act abnormally.”
Rabies is almost always fatal to mammals once the symptoms appear. Mammals that are aggressive or tame, show no fear of humans, wander aimlessly, are disoriented, or appear to be sick or paralyzed should be avoided because they could be infected with rabies or other diseases.
“The best way to prevent being exposed to rabies is to vaccinate all pets,” said Huang. “Vaccinated pets serve as a buffer between rabid wildlife and humans. When you vaccinate your pets, you may reduce your risk of exposure to rabies.”
Any time a person or pet encounters a potentially rabid animal, including a bat, the incident should be reported immediately to the local health department. Health experts will investigate to determine if treatment is necessary.
To report a possible rabies exposure in Oswego County, call the county health department weekdays at 315-349-3564 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3564. In an emergency during evenings, weekends or holidays, call the department’s answering service at 315-341-0086.
For more information visit https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/rabies/fact_sheet.htm.