Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). People get rabies from the bite of an animal with rabies (a rabid animal). Any wild mammal (bat, raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote, etc.) can have rabies and transmit it to people. Domestic animals (dogs, cats, ferrets) can also contract and transmit rabies. It is possible, but rare, that people may get rabies if infectious material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, gets directly into their eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound. (See What To Do If You Are Exposed To Rabies)
Rabies is a fatal disease. The goals of public health are to prevent human exposure to rabies through education and vaccination of domestic animals, and to prevent the disease with anti-rabies treatment if exposure occurs. Tens of thousands of people are successfully treated each year after being bitten by an animal that may have rabies. A few people die of rabies each year in the United States, usually because they do not recognize the risk of rabies from the bite of a wild animal and do not seek medical advice.
Pets and Rabies Vaccination
New York State law requires that all dogs, cats and domesticated ferrets be vaccinated against rabies. If an unvaccinated pet, or one that is overdue for a booster vaccination, comes into contact with a potentially rabid animal, the pet must be destroyed or strictly quarantined for six months.
It is essential that pet owners make sure that animals are immunized against rabies and that the vaccinations are kept up-to-date. Vaccinated animals that come in contact with wild animals that test positive for rabies are required to have a booster vaccination, which must be given within five days of exposure.
Pets must be 3 months of age to receive their first immunization, which will protect them for one year. The next shot (booster) provides protection for 3 years and is required one year after the first shot was given. Following this, a booster should be given every three years to protect your pet. Initial and booster shots will be given at free clinics scheduled throughout the year by Hamilton County Public Health.
Bats and Rabies
Bats are the leading cause of human rabies deaths in the U.S. These deaths are primarily linked to inapparent or unreported exposures from bats inside occupied structures such as homes or camps. Fact sheets and guidelines have been developed to assist in the identification of bat problems in occupied structures and to manage those problems. For more information, please click on the links below or call Hamilton County Public Health .
Please use the links below or contact the Rabies Coordinator at 518-648-6497 for more information or to report a possible exposure. To report a possible exposure when the public health office is closed, please contact the Sheriff's Office at 518-548-3113.
Guidelines & Regulations