According to the Oswego Health Department, there have been 12 laboratory-confirmed positive cases of rabid bats in Oswego County, three of which were in Oswego.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines rabies as a preventable viral disease found in mammals. Rabies is generally transmitted through an animal bites, often from wild animal such as bats, which is the cause of the cases in Oswego County. While the CDC states that the disease affects the nervous system, ultimately causing disease within the brain and death, it is a case of “urgency not emergency.”
Rabies shares symptoms with many illnesses. Some early symptoms include fever, headache, general weakness and discomfort. Later symptoms, are far more severe, including insomnia, anxiety, confusion and partial paralysis. Death generally occurs within days of the onset of these more severe symptoms.
The CDC suggests that if bitten by an animal, one should immediately clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water. This will decrease the likelihood that you will contract the disease from the bite. It is important to remember that this is an urgent case but not an emergency. So, rather than call 911, it is suggested to visit your doctor to be treated for any trauma that occurred as a result of the bite. From there, a doctor, possibly in consultation with CDC, will decide whether or not the rabies vaccination is required.
On campus, there are varying degrees of concern.
“I am more fearful of clowns but not thrilled that rabies are so close to me,” said Jamie Aranoff, a sophomore, expressing her belief that while this is not a good situation she still believes at the moment there are larger issues to be concerned with.
Other students said they wish they had knowledge on the subject.
“I wish I knew more about how to protect myself from them,” said student Leah Wolf. Wolf suggested the need for the school to better inform the students of how to best protect yourself and be aware of the situation.
Director of Student Health and Services Angela Brown said no known cases of rabies have been found on campus. Brown has offered much of the same advice as the CDC, warning students to avoid wild animals and if a bite occurs to wash the wound immediately and set up an appointment with a doctor.
“At this time I do not think students should be concerned about the new cases in Oswego County,” Brown said. “But I do think they should be educated and aware.”
“We have been dealing with rabies cases on a daily basis,” said Chris Williams, the associate public health sanitarian at the Oswego Health Department. “There will always be peaks and valleys; it is Mother Nature’s way of keeping track of the population.”
Williams said there is no need to be overly concerned as there has not been an extraordinarily high spike in cases. It is important to stay away from any questionable wildlife and to remember that if something does not seem right, then it probably is not. Williams also stressed the importance of being aware and knowledgeable.