Members of the Essex County Public Health Department want people to protect themselves and their animals against the spread of a pair of diseases that have been found here.
Kathy Daggett reported to members of the Essex County Human Services Committee Aug. 13 that she is working to promote awareness of Lyme disease and the recent outbreak of rabies in the region.
Rabies case confirmed
A rabid raccoon has been identified in the Town of Wilmington. Though other animals with confirmed rabies have been in other areas of Essex County, this is the first confirmed case in Wilmington.
Essex County Public Health Department offers these essentials for preventing rabies:
•Avoid contact with stray or unknown cats, dogs and wild animals;
•Make sure pets (dogs, cats, ferrets, etc.) and livestock (alpaca, goats, horses, cows, etc.) are up to date with their rabies vaccinations.
If a human, un-vaccinated pet or livestock comes in contact with a suspected rabid animal notify Essex County Public Health Department at 873-3500. Vaccinated animals that come in contact with wild animals must be given a booster rabies vaccination within 5 days of the contact. Owners of domestic farm animals should contact their vets regarding vaccination. Essex County Public Health should also be notified if there is contact with a bat, a bat is found in a room with a young child, or where someone is sleeping.
Essex County Public Health Department will submit wild animals and bats for rabies testing if they have had contact with humans or pets or have displayed unusual behavior. Call the Essex County Public Health Department at 873-3500 to report a contact or if you have any questions.
“Lyme disease is here,” Daggett said. “The numbers rose about five years ago, and it has stayed at that level, and we want to get the message out more to people what they can do to protect themselves.”
Daggett said people can stay protected by staying on worn trails, wearing light-colored clothing and checking for ticks when coming out of the woods.
“You can also help pets with vaccinations and collars to make sure they are not carrying anything into the homes,” she said. “It’s about protection, individual protection.”
Daggett also addressed the recent number of positive tests that have come back for rabies cases in the county.
“There were eight last year and 10 this year,” she said.”We will continue our surveillance and find out where these animals are and keep the public informed.”
Daggett said that the biggest form of staying away from rabbies is staying away from suspicious and animals that are not your pets.
“Stay away from rabid animals,” she said. “Keep animals inside at night. Do not touch stray and wild animals. We have had sad situations where children will find some baby raccoons and they will touch each one. Then the baby raccoons have to be tested for rabies, and that means killing them.”
Daggett said prevention measures in the county have included vaccinations for pets and bait drops throughout the county.
“Protection and prevention are our key role in this,” she said. “We want to hold back the spread of rabies to the north. We know that it is here in the animal population in the south.”
Jay Supervisor and county Board Chairman Randy Douglas said that he has been in contact with the Public Health Department since there was a positive test in his town.
“I have been driving these two ladies nuts over the last two weeks but I have some people who are very concerned over rabies,” he said. “They have been asking a lot of questions and I have had to ask public health to get involved and they have done a tremendous job.”