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Greater demand in summer, manufacturing delays lead to rabies vaccine shortage

By WKTV News

Due to a greater than anticipated demand during the summer months combined with manufacturing delays, the two producers of the rabies vaccine used in humans have announced a current shortage resulting in a change of protocol in rabies post exposure prophylaxis (RPEP), Patrice Bogan, Interim Director of the Oneida County Health Department announced on Tuesday.

“Until further notice, the Oneida County Health Department can only provide treatment in documented cases of rabies exposure and is, therefore, urging the pubic to take every precaution to avoid the threat of rabies,” Bogan said. She added, “People should exercise additional prudence when dealing with animals, both domestic and feral, in order to minimize the risk of exposure to this deadly virus transmitted through the saliva and mucous membranes of an infected animal.”

Bogan offered the following tips to avoid rabies:

• Vaccinate your pets. NYS Health Law requires all dogs, cats and ferrets 3-months and be vaccinated.
• Do not attempt to feed or touch stray or wild animals.
• Avoid sick or strange-acting animals.
• Do not keep wild animals as pets.
• Do not let pets have contact with wild animals.
• Keep bats out of the house and if exposed to a bat, do not let it escape without being tested for rabies. Never handle a bat, especially without gloves.
• If bitten or scratched try to capture the animal or at least identify the animal that caused the injury.
• If your pet is injured in a fight with an unknown pet or feral animal, do not care for any wounds without proper protection.

Post exposure rabies treatment for humans involves a shot of immunoglobulin and several rabies vaccine shots over a period of several weeks. Victims of a bite should wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and contact their primary care provider at once.

For more information contact the Oneida County Health Department at 798-5064 or visit our web site at ocgov.net/ondeida/health

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