Yates Co. Public Health warns of rabies activity in area

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
“Rabies vector species” (those animals most likely to transmit rabies) include raccoon, fox, bat, skunk, and possibly other mammals.

In the transition from spring to summer, more wild animals are out and about in our area. Some are looking for food or a place to live, but some have proven to be sick, and a potential danger to people and pets.

The Yates County Public Health Department has confirmed positive rabies cases with a raccoon and a fox recently, so it is important to pay attention to your surroundings and be prepared to act quickly.

“We need to be alert and aware of the possibilities of encountering these critters in our everyday life. The concern for Yates County Public Health is an encounter that might transmit the deadly disease, rabies, to either a person or domesticated animal,” says Kathy Swarthout, Yates County Public Health spokesperson.

The following is important to know about an encounter with a “rabies vector species” (those animals most likely to transmit rabies) like a raccoon, fox, bat, skunk, and possibly other mammal critters.

• All mammals, including humans and pets, are capable of getting rabies, and transmitting the disease to others.

• Bats are valuable since they eat bugs that can transmit diseases to people and animals. However, they can also transmit rabies through bites to people, pets, and livestock. If you find a bat in your home where someone has been sleeping, do not release it or damage the head in the process of trying to catch it. Go to the Yates County Public Health website to learn how to catch a bat. The bat may need to be tested for rabies. Go to this site and scroll down to find the video:  http://yatescounty.org/display_page.asp?pID=531

• Dogs, cats, ferrets, and domesticated livestock should be vaccinated against rabies. It is important to keep pets current on their rabies vaccine. If you are not sure when your animal was last vaccinated, contact your veterinarian for that information. Having your animal up-to-date on rabies vaccine could save the animal’s life. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to keep the animal safe.

• If wildlife has strayed into your yard or area, bring your children and pets inside and let the animal wander away. Watch for an animal that is behaving in an abnormal way; either overly friendly or aggressive toward people and pets, and does not wander off. If you see such an animal, let your family and neighbors know so everyone can be safe, and then notify the Yates County Sheriff or the Penn Yan Police Department. Call Yates County Public Health at 315-536-5160 or 1 -866-212-5160, if an encounter has occurred.

• If a person or pet has been bitten by wildlife, contact Yates County Public Health for further information on what is needed to keep you and yours safe and healthy. Public Health may need to test the animal to determine if it has transmitted rabies. The animal’s head is vital to the testing process, so it should not be damaged in any way.

• For more information on rabies visit www.yatescounty.org or www.health.ny.gov