ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Chemung County Health Department officials are warning residents about the possible exposure to rabies as bats are more active this time of year.
Each year, about fifteen Chemung County residents undergo costly and painful rabies treatment because they’ve released a bat before it could be tested. Additionally, several unvaccinated pets are quarantined or euthanized due to exposure to suspected or confirmed rabid bats, so it is important to keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats, and ferrets.
The next free clinic will be held at the Chemung Town Hall on Monday, August 5, 2019 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system in humans and other mammals. A person may contract rabies through a bite, scratch, or saliva from an infected animal.
Due to the small size of bats’ teeth, a bite may not be seen or even felt.
Potential rabies exposures should not be taken lightly. If untreated, rabies is usually fatal. To help avoid the risk of rabies, particularly from bats, Erin Walmsley, Supervising Public Health Sanitarian, recommends that if a bat is found in the home, do not release the bat outdoors until after speaking with health department officials.
It may be possible to test the bat and avoid the need to receive rabies treatment. More information on rabies and rabies prevention, including a current schedule of free clinics and instructions for safely catching a bat, is on the Health Department’s website.
. To report a bat in the home, contact Environmental Health Services of the Chemung County Health Department at 737-2019.