Two Stockton residents attacked by rabid cat

The first rabid animal has been confirmed in Chautauqua County during 2017. The Environmental Health Unit of the Chautauqua County Department of Health & Humans Services reported Monday that two Stockton residents were attacked by a stray and feral pet cat on Thursday.

“This incident should serve as a warning to Chautauqua County residents that animal rabies is a serious public health concern that we must not get complacent about,” said Christine Schuyler, county director of Health & Human Services. “Pets face a very real risk of exposure which can then translate to human exposure. Not only is this a terrible way for a pet to die, but children are often at greatest risk from rabies. They are more likely to be bitten and are also more likely to be severely exposed through multiple bites in high-risk sites on the body.”

Rabies is nearly always a fatal disease when exposure is missed and untreated. Preventing rabies in pets is the first line of defense.

Pet owners should be aware that New York state law requires all dogs, cats and domesticated ferrets be vaccinated against rabies at 4 months of age. The vaccination requirement aims to protect, not only pets and animals from the fatal rabies virus, but also owners who may be exposed through their pets.

Free rabies vaccination clinics are held at various locations throughout the county during the year. The next free rabies clinic is from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Gerry town garage.

The initial rabies vaccination is valid for one year and subsequent booster vaccinations are valid for three years. If an unvaccinated pet or one that’s overdue on its vaccination comes in contact with a rabid or suspected rabid animal, the pet must either be euthanized or strictly quarantined for six months. Vaccinated animals that come in contact with wild animals can simply be given booster vaccinations as long as they are given within five days of exposure.

Routine inquiries and requests for information can be obtained by calling 753-4481 during business hours. After normal business hours, residents with urgent inquiries can call the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office at 753-4232. Visit CDC.gov for general information.

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