Broome County Rabies Program is a partnership of the Broome County Health Department, Division of Environmental Health, Animal Aid and Relief Foundation (AARF), primary care providers, local veterinarians, hospital emergency rooms, animal control agents, and Broome County residents. Our goal is to prevent human disease and unnecessary human treatment by preventing exposure to rabies.
Animal rabies continues to be a serious public health threat in New York State and Broome County. The range of animal specimens involved in human and animal encounters makes it clear that wild animals, domesticated animals, livestock, pets and strays could potentially have rabies.
The Broome County Health Department urges all residents to take these common sense steps to avoid exposure to rabies:
If you or anyone you know has been bitten, scratched or has been in contact with an animal, immediately wash the wound, seek medical attention, and report the incident to the Broome County Health Department at 607.778.2847 Monday-Friday 8:30am-5:00pm. After normal business hours, residents with urgent inquiries can call Broome County Emergency Dispatch at 607.778.1911. A dispatcher will then contact Health Department staff for you. Rabies post exposure treatment is almost never needed immediately.
Rabies: What To Do
If you see a wild animal, especially a raccoon, bat, skunk or fox:
• Stay away and keep your children away.
• Keep pets indoors.
• Let the animal go away on its own.
• You may call a nuisance wildlife control company who will remove the animal for a fee.
• If the animal has not had contact with a pet or human, there is no need to contact the Broome County Health Department.
If the wild animal is threatening people or pets:
• Call the Broome County Health Department who will likely refer you to a local animal control officer, local nuisance wildlife control company or the local police.
• Call the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 24 hour dispatch at 1.800.847.7332.
• The Broome County Health Department can not assist in physically removing an animal.
If your pet is exposed to an animal that might be rabid:
• Wear gloves to handle your pet. Saliva from the rabid animal may be on your pet’s fur. Check the animal for bites or scratches.
• Limit contact. Isolate your pet from other animals and people for several hours.
• Contact the Broome County Health Department during normal business hours, Monday - Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM at 607.778.2847. For emergency guidance outside of normal business hours, call Broome County Dispatch at 607.778.1911. A dispatcher will then contact the Broome County Health Department staff. Broome County Health Department is interested in knowing if the wild animal is available for testing.
• Call your veterinarian. Vaccinated pets will need a rabies booster shot within five days of the attack.
If Bitten or Scratched
…By a Wild Animal
1. Immediately wash the wound with lots of soap and running water.
2. Get medical attention. Go to your family doctor or the nearest emergency room.
4. Call the Broome County Health Department for instructions and to notify if the wild animal is available for testing.
5. DO NOT DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL ADVICE.
6. If necessary, a dead animal may be kept on ice, double bagged in plastic, until it can be tested by the Broome County Health Department. Always wear gloves, use a shovel and clean the area and tools with one part bleach to ten parts water. Keep the dead animal in a protected area away from people and other animals.
…By a Pet Dog or Cat
1. Immediately wash the wound with lots of soap and running water.
2. Obtain the pet’s owners name, address and telephone number. Find out if the animal has a current rabies vaccination and write down the rabies tag number.
3. Get medical attention. Go to your family doctor or the nearest emergency room.
4. Contact the Broome County Health Department during normal business hours, Monday - Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM at 607.778.2847.
Have this information ready:
• Type and description of animal including any features or marks;
• If it was a pet, whether it wore a collar, tags and where it lives;
• How the bite occurred;
• Whether the animal has been seen in the area before and what direction it was traveling.
If a Bat Enters Your Home:
Each year, especially during the warm summer months when bats are active and feeding, there is a rise in the number of bat and human encounters reported to the Broome County Health Department. Although most bats do not have rabies, some do. Bat bites and scratches are difficult to see and may not be felt. As a result, some people may not realize they have been bitten or scratched by a bat.
Do not allow the bat to escape if there is any question of possible contact with a human or pet. Testing will determine whether or not the bat had rabies and will minimize the need for unnecessary post-exposure treatment.
Not all encounters will require testing of the bat. If you see a bat in your home and you are certain that there was no contact with a person or pet (for example, you saw the bat fly in the house and never lost sight of it), close the room and closet doors, open the windows and watch the bat until it leaves.
And you can not catch the bat
- If you are unable or unwilling to capture the bat, see your local yellow pages for nuisance wildlife control companies. For a fee, the wildlife handlers will capture the bat.
- The Broome County Health Department can not assist in physically capturing or removing a bat.
- The Broome County Health Department does not endorse or require law enforcement officers to respond to bat calls.
- If the bat is not successfully captured, contact the Broome County Health Department during normal business hours, Monday - Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM at 607.778.2847. For emergency guidance outside of normal business hours, call Broome County Dispatch at 607.778.1911. A dispatcher will then contact the Broome County Health Department staff. We also recommend that you contact your Health Care Provider.
And you can catch the bat
- Confine the bat to one room by closing all windows and doors, turn on the lights, and wait for the bat to land.
- Wearing gloves approach the bat slowly, cover the bat with a coffee can or similar container and slide a piece of cardboard or lid under the can trapping the bat.
- Firmly hold the cardboard in place against the top of the container, turn it right
side up and tape the cardboard tightly to the container.
- Keep the bat cool if it is collected on weekends or holidays. Place the container in a cooler with ice in it. DO NOT FREEZE THE BAT!
- After capturing the bat, contact the Environmental Health Division of the Broome County Health Department during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at 607.778.2847 to make arrangements for the bat to be tested for rabies. For emergency guidance outside of normal business hours, call Broome County Dispatch at 607.778.1911. A dispatcher will then contact Broome County Health Department staff for you.
Following these steps will insure that bat’s brain remains intact, which is necessary for testing. Please see the “How to Catch a Bat” video below.
To minimize the risk of an unwanted bat in your home, you should do a home inspection. Bats can get into homes through cracks as small as a dime. Find potential points of entry and seal them. To further reduce the risk, make sure all windows and doors have screens on them and that the screens are intact. Attics are also a common entry point. Make sure access to those areas from the living area is tightly sealed.
Broome County Rabies Animal Vaccination Clinics
The Broome County Health Department, in conjunction with the Animal Aid & Relief Foundation and local veterinarians, is happy to provide residents a service to vaccinate dogs, cats and ferrets. Vaccinating your dogs, cats and ferrets is required by New York State law. Vaccination protects your pets and the public from what can be a fatal rabies virus.
Sponsored by the Animal Aid & Relief Foundation (AARF) and the Broome County Health Department.