Utica, NY (WIBX) - There's a shortage of a rabies vaccine used to treat people who have been exposed to the virus. The Oneida County Health Department says it's due to the high demand during the summer months and manufacturing delays. Bobbi Kahl, a sanitarian with OCHD says the company that makes the product announced it will no longer supply the vaccine for pre-exposure cases. "At this point we can only finish the pre-exposures that we have started--we can't start anyone else on rabies pre-exposure right now," she said. Kahl says the company predicts the shortage to last for several months.

In the meantime, health officials are offering the following precautions to avoid exposure to the rabies virus:

  • 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.

According to health experts, post exposure rabies treatment for humans involves a shot of immunoglobulin and several rabies vaccine shots over a period of several weeks. Those exposed to rabies due to an animal bite, should wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and contact their primary care provider immediately.

For more information contact the Oneida County Health Department at (315)798-5064.