It is the same rabies strain that has impacted the entire northeastern United States, though Clinton County has been comparatively free of rabies because of an aggressive wildlife-immunization program the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has been conducting as a pilot study for the past several years.
“They will use this kind of data (from rabid animals) to modify the bait program,” Mitchell said of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts to distribute baited vaccines during the late summer to immunize the raccoon population.
The Health Department continues to stress the need for pet owners to vaccinate their cats, dogs and ferrets.
If a vaccinated animal is bitten by a wild animal, the pet simply needs to receive a booster shot.
However, if the pet is unvaccinated, it will have to be destroyed or put in confinement for a six-month period.
“Everyone needs to vaccinate their pets,” Mitchell said. “It’s the best thing they can do to protect their pets and themselves from rabies and save them from major heartache.”
People who are potentially exposed to the rabies virus can receive post-exposure shots, which have proven to be extremely successful, Mitchell noted, but there is no approved post-exposure shots for animals.
Mitchell also suggests that people who spend a lot of time with livestock, such as horses and animals they may be showing for 4-H and other programs, should vaccinate those animals against rabies.
The Clinton County Health Department will hold rabies-vaccine clinics over the next couple of months but does not have a specific schedule yet.
Essex County also holds public rabies-vaccine clinics throughout the year. Times and locations are updated on the department’s website.
Email Jeff Meyers: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are suggestions from health officials to reduce the potential for rabies: