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In the know about animal bite prevention

PLATTSBURGH During the summer, not only are more children out and about, but animals are as well.

This is one of the reasons it is important for parents to teach children how to safely be around animals and out of harms way.

In Clinton County, hundreds of children are bitten every year, according to a brochure put together by the Clinton County Health Department. These numbers can easily be reduced if people follow some of the simple steps.

Information includes warning signs that an animal may attack, reasons for the attack, and what important information parents should share with their child about animals.

It is important to teach children how to behave around dogs [as well as cats and ferrets], says Rita Mitchell, the senior public health sanitarian at the health department. These animals are the most common of the domesticated animals to cause a problem for children.

Free information is also provided through videos that Mitchell says are distributed to elementary schools in the area to explain some safety measures that should always be taken around animals.

Along with the threat of an attack by a domesticated or stray animal, there is also the threat of rabies.

Because rabies is so dangerous, cats, dogs, and ferrets are required by law to have the vaccine by four months of age, but no earlier than three months, and again in one year. They should have booster shots every three years after.

The Health Department offers a rabies clinic about every four months, in different locations, to make it easier for people to attend.

Mitchell said that if anyone is bitten or comes in contact with a stray animal should seek medical attention immediately. It is also important to wash any wound with soap and water.

If someone comes across a stray animal, Mitchell also explains that it is important to wear heavy gloves to avoid any unnecessary bites or scratches.

For more information on rabies clinics or on how to prevent animal bites, visit www.clintonhealth.org or call 518-565-4870.

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