Rabies cases in Columbia County

Several incidents of rabies are being investigated by the Columbia County Department of Health, mostly in Southern Columbia County.

For immediate Release

Recent incidents involving contact between individual County residents and wild animals that have tested positive for the rabies virus has prompted the Columbia County Department of Health (CCDOH) to issue a warning to the public not to handle, capture or attempt to confine any wild animals.

As the temperature increases and people spend more time outdoors, the potential for exposure to animals with a high risk of rabies increases as well. Animals with a high rabies risk include raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats. The recent cases cited by CCDOH include exposure to a rabid fox and raccoon.

Not only does attempting to handle wild animals pose a health risk, it is illegal under New York State law. According to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) law, it is unlawful to capture or posses any wild animal unless you are licensed by the DEC. Tips and information on how to properly deal with wild animals, including contact information for local wildlife rehabilitators and the DEC’s Wildlife Office, can be found on the DEC website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/261.html.

If a bat is found in your sleeping quarters or home, do not attempt to release or kill the bat. Contact CCDOH for necessary steps to take at (518) 828-3358. Any potential rabies exposure to any wild or stray animal should be reported to the Columbia County Health Department.

County residents can also limit their exposure to rabies by keeping pets properly vaccinated. According to New York State Public Health law, dogs, cats and ferrets kept as pets should be immunized against rabies by their owner(s), defined as “any person keeping, harboring or having charge or control of, or permitting any dog, cat or domesticated ferret to remain on or to be lodged or fed within such person’s house, yard, or premises.” Failure to vaccinate these pets can result in fines of up to $200.00.

CCDOH hosts several free rabies clinics for cats, dogs and ferrets throughout the year. There is no charge to Columbia County residents, however donations are accepted. Pet owners who bring animals to the clinic are responsible for the control of their pets; cats and ferrets should be secured in a sturdy carrier, and dogs should be on a leash. CCDOH staff members are on hand at the clinics to assist pet owners as needed. Breeders should obtain rabies immunization through veterinary services.

The next rabies vaccination clinic for 2017 has been scheduled for:

May 6 (Sat) Gallatin Town Highway Garage County Routes 8 & 11

Cats and Ferrets10:00 – 11:00

Dogs 11:00 -12:00 Copake Vets

Dates and times for additional rabies clinics are available on the Columbia County Department of Health website (visit www.columbiacountyny.com and select “Department Links” to find the Health Department), or by calling the Health Department at (518)828-3358.

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