Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system and ultimately causes death.
The virus is found in
Animals That Get Rabies
Only mammals (including people) can get rabies.
Rabies most often occurs in wild animals including raccoons, fox, coyotes, skunk, porcupines, groundhogs and bats.
Livestock – cattle, horses, goat, sheep, swine, etc. can get rabies.
Rodents (such as mice, squirrels, chipmunks and rats) and rabbits rarely get rabies.
Reptiles and amphibians don’t get rabies.
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. This can be done through a veterinarian or through Essex County Public Health Rabies Clinics—ongoing & offered throughout Essex County.
Rabies Vaccination Clinics for Pets
ECHD provides free rabies vaccine for all pet dogs, cats and ferrets through clinics throughout Essex County. 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.
Exposure to rabies most typically occurs through the bite of an infected animal.
Exposures can also happen if infectious material from a rabid animal (saliva, brain tissue, spinal fluid or cerebrospinal fluid) has contact with an open wound or mucous membrane.
Interactions with a rabid or potentially rabid animal where a bite, open wound or mucous membrane exposure 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.
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 and call your doctor. If your doctor recommends treatment, call your county health agency immediately to determine where you should receive treatment. If there is any chance of exposure to a bat through an inapparent bite, for example, a bat had direct contact with someone, or was in a room with a sleeping individual, unattended child, or with someone with mental impairment, contact your county health agency immediately to discuss the situation.
Each county outside of New York City is required by the state to authorize all treatment of individuals who have been exposed to the rabies virus within their county. With this prior authorization, it is likely that you will not have to pay for the cost of treatment. Without prior authorization, you may be responsible for treatment expenses.
County health agencies are also responsible for managing animal bites and exposure of domestic animals to known or suspect rabid animals.
Call Essex County Health Department to report exposures or if you have any questions about situations that may or may not meet exposure criteria.
Mon-Fri 8 AM – 5 PM 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
Handling Dead Animals
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 by:
* 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 1 week.
Wildlife Rehabilitators are licensed through NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Find a wildlife Rehabilitator Near Your (search by county).