Health department officials are urging residents to be alert and aware of the signs of rabies after a domestic cat tested positive for rabies this week.

Officials say that the cat was sent to the New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Center for testing on Friday, May 13, 2022 and results were reported to be positive the same day.

Known best for their work on bat rabies, the staff at the Rabies Laboratory at the Wadsworth Center works to prevent the spread of rabies throughout the state.

Authorities say that, to the best of their knowledge, only one person was exposed to the cat.  That person has received treatment.

The Oneida County Health Department reminds residents that signs of rabies include the following:

  • Strange behavior
  • Animal acting "mad"
  • Animal acting shy, but may attempt to get "unusually close"
  • drooling or foaming from the mouth

Residents who believe that they have seen an animal with these signs are strongly cautioned not to approach it and call animal control or local law enforcement for help.

Rabies is contagious to human beings and other animals.  If caught early rabies can be treated but if not, it can cause death.

Rabies vaccination clinics are held throughout the year in Oneida County and other counties across the state.

All cats, dogs, and ferrets that are three months old and older must have rabies vaccinations and remain current on those vaccinations, even if they are kept indoors.

Ferrets must receive the vaccinations annually.  The Oneida County Department of Health says, "Dogs and cats must receive a rabies vaccination at three months old, one year, and then once every three years."

Information on Rabies Prevention can be accessed through the following:

Around the world, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 59,000 people die each year from rabies.  Most of these deaths are in parts of the world where vaccines and vaccination programs are scarce. The CDC warns, however, that the number of rabies cases worldwide is much higher, since most of the cases are not human and are difficult to report.

In the United States death by rabies infection is rare.  However, after no cases being reported in 2019 and 2020 in the U.S., according to a January 7, 2022 article by Jenny Gross in The New York Times, five rabies deaths were reported in the U.S. in 2021.  That is the highest number in a decade, according to the article.

Animals in Which Rabies is Most Commonly Found

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in North America rabies is most commonly found in bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, and mongoose. It is also found in cats, cattle, and dogs. The CDC says that rabid bats have been found in every state except for Hawaii. Rabid mongoose have been found in Puerto Rico.

Rabies is easily transmitted from animals to other animals, including human beings. Human cases are rare in the United States, but deadly if not caught in time.

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