Monday, May 7, 2018

Puppy Fever?

You find an adorable puppy with no apparent owner.  It follows you about, is well-behaved, friendly and lovable – how could you not take it home, right?  It’s great with the kids, games of tug-o-war with a towel and playing chase with the neighbors’ dogs.  Maybe a chew or two on a finger (he’s teething after all), or a nip at a heel during a game of chase and lots of face licking!  By evening everyone is tired and the puppy is curled up with your kids on the couch, fast asleep- how cute!  How fortunate to have found this little ball of fur.  

Fast forward a couple of weeks and puppy seems a bit slow and tired.  Well, puppies play hard so that is normal, right? Each day he seems to get a bit weaker to the point where he can barely walk out to the backyard and just lies down by his water bowl so you take him to the vet. 

What could have happened, he was so full of life only a few days ago?! Your vet tells you that your puppy has symptoms of rabies – weak legs, tired and stumbling.  This may sound like a horror show, but something similar happened right here in Clinton County this year.  

Rabies is a deadly disease.  Once symptoms appear in our pets or in people, there is no cure. Any person or pet that came in contact with an infected animal is at risk of getting rabies. The good news? If you seek medical care immediately after an animal bite, there is a very successful treatment.  

What should you do if you are bitten by a pet or wildlife?
1.      Get the animal owner’s name, address and phone number – this is important!
2.      Note where and when the bite happened.
3.      Note the animal’s color, condition, size and temperament.
4.      Thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention for your wound immediately – animal bites can be infected with many diseases besides rabies.
5.      Report the incident to the Clinton County Health Department (CCHD) Rabies Officer by calling 518-565-4870.

What do we do when you call us?
  • We do not search for or catch animals.
  • Use the information you give us to contact the animal owner and make sure the animal did not have rabies at the time it bit you.
  • Verify the rabies vaccination status of the animal.
  • Track the animal’s health.  If it is alive and well 10 days after the day it bit you, it did not have rabies at the time of the bite.

How can you prevent rabies?
  • Do not attempt to catch or pet strays or wildlife.
  • Keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats, ferrets, and dogs.
  • Control your pets – keep cats and ferrets inside and keep dogs on a leash.
  • Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or vaccinated.

Stay Safe!
Judy Ross
Principal Public Health Sanitarian