ONEIDA COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

PRESS RELEASE

Immediate Release

Contact:  Bobbi Jo Girven
Rabies Prevention Coordinator

Friday, May 23, 2008

(315) 798-5064

Looming Vaccine Shortage Demands Prudence When Dealing With Animals
 

     The only two manufacturers of human rabies vaccine approved for use in the U.S. have experienced production interruptions and other problems that could result in a shortage, health officials warn.  Subsequently, Sanofi Pasteur, maker of IMOVAX, and Novartis, maker of RabAvert have changed the guidelines limiting the use of their products.

     As a result, the Oneida County Health Department is cautioning area residents to be particularly prudent when dealing with animals, both domestic and feral in order to reduce the risk of exposure to the deadly virus transmitted through the saliva and mucous membranes of an infected animal.

     While no shortage currently exists, we could see a lack of vaccine by September if there is a sustained demand throughout the summer months,” said Nicholas A. DeRosa, Oneida County Director of Health.  DeRosa added, “Human rabies vaccine will now only be available to those patients who have had documented rabies exposure.”

     DeRosa stressed that in light of current conditions the public should take every measure to avoid the threat of rabies and offered the following tips:

·         Vaccinate your pets.  NYS Health Law requires all dogs, cats and ferrets older than 3 months to be vaccinated.  See your veterinarian or attend one of the rabies clinics sponsored by the Oneida County Health Department.

·         Do not attempt to feed or touch stray or wild animals.

·         Avoid all sick or strange-acting animals.

·         Do not keep wild animals as pets.

·         Do not let your pet play with wild or stray animals

·         Never handle a bat, especially with bare hands.

·         Keep bats out of the house and if exposed to bat in the house, do not allow it to escape without being tested for rabies.  

·         If your pet is involved in a fight with an unknown pet or wildlife, do not care for any wounds without proper protection.  

·         If bitten or scratched try to capture or at least identify the animal that caused the injury.

·         Cover your garbage cans and don’t leave pet’s food outside where it can attract wild animals.

     The mid-Atlantic Raccoon Epizootic strain of rabies is widespread throughout Oneida County and last year accounted for more than 80 area residents having to undergo Post Exposure Treatment and a number of unvaccinated household pets to be quarantined or euthanized.           

     For more information on rabies prevention contact the Oneida County Health Department at 798-5064 or log onto our web site at www.ocgov.net.