Summer Alerts: Parvovirus & Rabies

Jul 3, 2012

Summertime means more contact among people, pets and wildlife outdoors - Animal experts and Public Health officials are urging citizens to be aware of two diseases that are on this season's watchlist... Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

An outbreak of a virus affecting dogs is raising concerns throughout Ulster County- Officials say par-vo-virus is highly contagious. Dr. Arnold Rugg is with the Kingston Animal Hospital - he says there have been six deaths so far.  Parvovirus poses no threat to humans, and Rugg says it can easily be prevented through vaccination.

Rugg notes just as there are human carriers of diseases like typhoid who can be symptom-free, there are canine carriers of par-vo-virus who will never fall ill, but spread the virus to other dogs. Rugg says the hot weather means more animals and more people are out, and there is more opportunity to spread the virus - he says its also a peak time for the spread of another, more deadly virus: rabies. There have been a small number of cases of rabies in housecats.

The Westchester County Department of Health issued a rabies alert to residents who may have had contact with a rabid stray cat in Mount Kisco, near an auto dealership at 225 Kisco Avenue near the end of June.  The cat was a small female one-year-old grey tabby with black stripes and a white belly and paws. It smelled of skunk and had been attacking tires in the auto dealer’s parking lot before it was captured. 

New York State law requires dogs, cats and ferrets to be vaccinated against rabies and receive regular booster shots.

Westchester County Health Spokeswoman Caren Halbfinger says if you're outdoors and see an animal behaving strangely, notify local police and keep a distant eye on it until they arrive. 

New York's Jefferson County posted a link on its website to a YouTube video demonstrating how to safely catch a bat in a home using a container and a piece of cardboard so that it can be tested.

The video is at http://co.jefferson.ny.us/index.aspx?page=578