******* FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE *******
Onondaga County Health Commissioner, Dr. Cynthia B. Morrow, announced today that the New York State Health Department laboratory has reported that a feral cat, found in the Town of Clay, has tested positive for rabies. The adult black cat had been living in the area along Jackson Road. Any person who believes that they had physical contact with the cat should contact their physician to determine if they need to receive rabies vaccine. This is the first finding of rabies in a cat since August 2010.
Dr. Morrow stresses that it is important not to touch or feed unknown or feral cats because they interact with wildlife and have the potential to be rabid. If you have a feral cat on your property and want to have it removed, contact a professional animal removal service.
Protecting yourself from rabies is important year round. Rabies is a fatal disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord. It can take several weeks to several months for rabies symptoms to appear. Early treatment after an exposure can prevent rabies.
Any mammal can get rabies, but it is most often seen in bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Below are steps to help prevent rabies:
„X Teach children to stay away from unfamiliar animals, either wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
„X Wash any wound from an animal thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.
„X If your family or your pet has been exposed to a bat, capture the bat and have it tested for rabies. If you awaken to find a bat in your room, or a bat is present in the room of an unattended or sleeping child or, in a room with someone with a mental impairment, seek medical advice and have the bat tested.
„X Be a responsible pet owner by keeping your pet’s vaccinations current. This is especially important for dogs, cats, and ferrets. Getting your pet vaccinated can help stop the spread of rabies from wild animals to humans.
Onondaga County Health Department offers a number of clinics throughout the year to protect your pet from rabies. New York State Public Health Law requires that all puppies and kittens get an initial shot at three months of age. They also need to get a booster shot at one year old and again every three years. Ferrets must get a shot every year. For a full schedule of upcoming 2012 rabies clinics, visit www.ongov.net/health or call 435-3165.