As a local health department we are responsible for rabies surveillance, prevention and control. Our activities include:
New York State rabies law requires all pets (dogs, cats, ferrets) to be vaccinated against rabies by 4 months of age.
First time vaccinations of pets are good for 1 year. Booster vaccinations – those received after prior vaccination – are effective for 3 years. This Pet Owner Fact Sheet is a good list of frequently asked questions and answers about pet ownership and rabies. Owners of pets too young to be vaccinated should be kept on a leash when outdoors or in a physically confined area.
This Department provides free rabies vaccine clinics for all pet dogs, cats and ferrets throughout Essex County every year. Donations of $5 per pet is appreciated. All pets must be controlled by an adult and on a leash or in a carrier. If your pet has been vaccinated previously, bring the rabies vaccination certificate with you so your pet can receive a three year certificate. This Department is not able to accept a tag as proof of vaccination.
NOTE: Due to COVID-19 restrictions and response we’ve had to condense our 2020 rabies clinic schedule. We ask pet owners to pre-register all animals prior to attending any clinic to limit exposure risk and assist in keeping our Essex County communities safe.
NOTE: We know how busy pet clinics can be. Pre-registration helps people & pets move most quickly through the clinic line; it doesn’t mean those who have pre-registered won’t have to wait in line. Our goal is to serve 60 pets/hour – that’s 1 pet/minute!
Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system and if untreated, leads to death.
The virus is found in saliva, mucous membrane (eyes, nose, mouth) & nervous tissue (brain and spinal cord) fluid of infected animals.
Only mammals (including people) can get rabies.
In our area, rabies most often occurs in wild animals including raccoons, fox, coyotes, skunk, porcupines, groundhogs and bats.
Livestock including cattle, horses, goat, sheep and swine, can also get rabies.
Small rodents like mice, squirrels, chipmunks, rats and rabbits rarely get rabies.
Reptiles and amphibians don’t get rabies.
Handling Dead Animals
Exposure to the rabies virus most often happens by an infected animal biting another animal.
Exposures can also happen if infectious material from a rabid animal (saliva, brain tissue, spinal fluid) has contact with an open wound or mucous membrane. Direct contact with a rabid or potentially rabid animal where a bite, open wound or mucous membrane contact cannot be ruled out – such as a bat in a room with a sleeping person, unattended child, intoxicated or otherwise mentally compromised person – are considered exposures. If there is any chance of exposure to a bat contact this health department immediately to discuss the situation.
Indirect contact – being in the same space, contact with feces or an object that had contact with a rabid or potentially rabid animal – is not considered an exposure.
If you have been bitten, scratched or have had contact with the saliva of an animal that you believe is rabid, wash the wound immediately with soap and water, and call your health care provider for care of wounds and a consult.
If your doctor recommends treatment, call this Department for assistance in planning treatment. It is critical that before seeking rabies treatment – post exposure prophylaxis shots – the bite or exposure is reported to this Department.
Mon-Fri 8 AM – 5 PM 518-873-3500
After Business Hours, Weekends , Holidays 1-877-270-7249
If a Stray or Wild Animal is Near Your House
If You or Your Pet is bitten or has another exposure
The rabies virus can take weeks to months to incubate in an animal before the animal acts unusually or rabid. Protect yourself, your pets and livestock :
* Store bird seed, pet food & garbage indoors.
* Do not feed pets outdoors.
* Tightly lock outdoor compost & garbage.
Animals with rabies may show unusual behavior for their species –
Once an animal starts showing unusual behavior due to rabies it will typically die within 10 days or less.
Wildlife Rehabilitators are licensed through NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Find a wildlife Rehabilitator Near Your (search by county).