ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County lawmakers were told Monday they must be ready to handle any rabid-animal cases discovered in their towns this spring.
As the weather moderates and animals begin moving about more, there will be more rabies cases, County Public Health Director of Preventive Services Susan Allott reminded the Essex County Board of Supervisors Human Services Committee.
She said County Public Health will soon be holding clinics to vaccinate pets against the disease.
Allott also asked that towns make sure they have a backup animal-control officer, in case a rabies case is reported while the regular officer is unavailable.
“You need to be prepared,” she said. “If you find a dead fox, raccoon, skunk — those are the animals that can carry rabies.”
She advised them to use extreme caution in handling a potentially rabid dead creature.
“Put it in a plastic bag; don’t actually touch the animal. If you can bury it, that’s fine; double bag it.”
People who see a live animal exhibiting symptoms that might mean it is rabid should call their town hall so an animal-control officer is notified, she said.
Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) said the Public Health Department should do a rabies training session for highway superintendents in Essex County.
“They’re (highway crews) the ones who are going out there and the ones we need to protect. They’re picking up these animals.”
Allott agreed to go to the next monthly meeting of town and village highway superintendents in Elizabethtown.
“We’ve had numerous (rabid animal) issues in Jay,” Douglas said. “Is the state going to do bait drops?”
Because the problem is most severe in rural Essex County, the State Department of Environmental Conservation usually does rabies-vaccine bait drops for wild animals at the county lines to minimize the spread to other counties.