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Agencies warn pet owners about rabies

    YATES, SCHUYLER COUNTIES—While there have been no rabies cases in Yates County so far this year, the number of confirmed cases in Schuyler County is currently at 11.
    Marcia Kasprzyk, deputy director of public health, explained this is four more than the total number of rabies cases in all of 2010.
    Julia Field, clinic coordinator for Yates County Public Health, said in the last five years there have only been around five cases. She added each year the department has been seeing less than usual. The next rabies clinic in Yates will be Sept. 7 in Dundee.
    Kasprzyk said there is a cycle where some years there are many cases and some years there are just a few. Kasprzyk said, “I think we’re in the high cycle.”
    She said the rabies cases have predominantly been wild animals (raccoons, skunks, and a woodchuck). However she added one case was a cat, which is “very unusual.” To prevent rabies, the county holds clinics throughout the year. The next one is July 12, at the Catharine Highway Barn.
    Kasprzyk said the public health department holds between four and six clinics each year. One of this year’s clinics will again be a cat only vaccination clinic in September. Kasprzyk explained most cats do not like being at a clinic with dogs. She said cat owners are much more likely to bring the pet for a vaccination if there are no dogs.
    The New York State Department of Health advises keeping dogs, cats and ferrets up to date on their rabies vaccinations. Vaccinated pets serve as a buffer between rabid wildlife and man. The agency says by protecting them you may reduce your risk of exposure to rabies. Vaccines for dogs, cats and ferrets after three months of age are effective for a one-year period. Re-vaccinations are effective for up to three years. Pets too young to be vaccinated should be kept indoors. Some new vaccines have now been licensed, and therefore, can be used for younger animals.
    The state also suggests ways to prevent the spread of rabies:
    • Don’t try to separate two fighting animals. Wear gloves if you handle your pet after a fight.
    • Keep family pets indoors at night. Don’t leave them outside unattended or let them roam free.
    • Don’t attract wild animals to your home or yard. Keep your property free of stored bird seed or other foods that may attract wild animals. Feed pets indoors. Tightly cap or put away garbage cans. Board up any openings to your attic, basement, porch or garage. Cap your chimney with screens.
    • Bats can be particularly difficult to keep out of buildings because they can get through cracks as small as a pencil. Methods to keep bats out (batproofing) of homes and summer camps should be done during the fall and winter. If bats are already inside (e.g., in an attic or other areas), consult with your local health department about humane ways to remove them.





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