Public Health – Environmental Risk Factors


Vaccinated pets serve as a buffer between rabid wildlife and people. Protect them, and you may reduce your risk of exposure to rabies. The initial rabies vaccination for dogs and cats is effective for a one-year period. After that, rabies revaccinations are effective for three years. Rabies is transmitted by contact with the saliva of an infected animal. This usually occurs through a bite wound, but some other types of exposure may also put you at risk. Do not handle pets with bare hands after any involvement with a suspected rabid animal. If your pet has saliva from a suspected rabid animal on it’s fur, and you have open cuts or abrasions on your hands, there is a potential threat of the rabies virus being transmitted to you. Pet owners should keep a pair of thick gloves handy for just such situations.

In Schoharie County per NYS Public Health Law, rabies vaccinations are mandatory for dogs, cats and domesticated ferrets. The Schoharie County Department of Health, in an ongoing effort to help county residents keep their pets rabies vaccinations up-to-date, will be holding animal rabies clinics throughout the year during the months of January, May, and in August/September. Remember to bring proof of previous vaccination to qualify for a three year rabies certificate.

Check the local newspapers and the County website’s Public Announcements for rabies clinic schedule dates and times approximately 1 month in advance. A donation for each rabies vaccination is appreciated to help offset clinic costs. If you have any questions about the rabies clinics, or rabies in general, contact the Schoharie County Department of Health at (518) 295-8382.

If a bat is found indoors and the indications dictate a probability of exposure, the bat should be captured and tested for rabies. For more information read the NYSDOH Rabies Fact Sheet and watch NYSDOH Catch the Bat video.

West Nile Virus:

West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne infection that can cause serious illness in humans and may even be fatal.
To protect our community and to help reduce the mosquito population, here are some things you can do:

  • Remove from around your home and neighborhood anything that might hold standing water. For example: old tires, wheelbarrows, cans, bottles, buckets, toys, pool covers, flowerpots, and empty plant containers. Containers such as kiddie pools and birdbaths require a change of water every three to four days to prevent mosquito breeding.
  • Ensure all window/door screens are intact.
  • Report any dead birds that you find to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) at 1-866-537-BIRD (2473). Dead birds especially crows may be infected with the virus.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. When mosquitoes are present:
    • Wear long sleeves and long pants.
    • Take extra precautions at dawn and dusk.
    • Use proper insect repellent – Follow instructions carefully. Never allow children to apply insect repellent, a parent or adult should apply and avoid applying to the child’s hands. Repellents should not be used on children under three years of age.
      Discuss any health concerns with your health care provider.
Lyme Disease:

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection spread by the black-legged deer tick.
For more information see NYSDOH Lyme Disease Fact Sheet
or Centers for Disease Control.

Protect Yourself, Your Family and Your Pets:

  • Avoid tick-infested habitat-wooded and grassy areas
  • Wear light-colored clothing to be able to spot ticks more clearly
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck your pants into socks
  • Wear high rubber boots – ticks are usually located near the ground
  • Use insect repellents
  • Check for ticks and remove promptly

Additional Tick Removal Resources:

Use the NYSDOH Tick Identification Service
Note: This service DOES NOT identify Lyme Disease, only the type of tick

Most healthcare providers do not prescribe antibiotics to treat Lyme Disease UNLESS you have symptoms of Lyme Disease.
If you have a tick bite OBSERVE the area where the tick was removed.
In 60 – 80 percent of cases a reddened area resembling a bull’s eye or solid patch develops between 3 – 30 days after the tick bite.
Other early symptoms include fever, joint pain or flu-like symptoms.
If you develop a reddened patch 2 inches in diameter that spreads, you could have Lyme Disease. Contact your healthcare provider.

Lead Poisoning:

The Schoharie County Department of Health is committed to raise our community awareness about the dangers of lead poisoning and to minimize the risk of lead poisoning.

New York State Law requires all one and two year old children to be screened for blood lead levels.

As requested by the NYSDOH, the SCDOH maintains a Childhood Lead Tracking registry. We receive the results of lead testing on all Schoharie County children. Free lead poisoning prevention education for families and homeowners is sent to families along with the results of their child’s lead test. Our Lead Prevention Coordinator provides nursing case management for children who have elevated lead blood levels.

Lead Poisoning is a danger for every baby and child.
Protect Your Kids – Eat Healthy
What the results of a blood lead test mean

If you are pregnant, protect yourself and your baby from lead poisoning.

Lead Poisoning Can Cause:

  • Lower IQ
  • Hearing Loss
  • Anemia
  • Growth Problems
  • Behavior Problems
  • Kidney & Brain Damage

Lead Prevention Tips:

  • Clean up paint chips immediately.
  • Give your children healthy snacks.
  • Wash your child’s hands often, especially before eating.
  • Use COLD water for cooking and mixing formula.
  • Let the water run 3-4 minutes before using.
  • Wash toys often, especially teething toys.
  • Remove shoes or wipe them before coming into the house.
  • Damp-mop floors and wet wipe surfaces twice a week.
  • Wet wipe dust in window-wells.
  • Feed your family foods high in iron and calcium.
  • Be careful with hobbies that might use lead. (e.g. making bullets or fishing lures and using some artist paints)
  • If your job exposes you to lead, be sure to change out of work clothes before you have contact with your family and wash work clothes separately. People who work in construction, plumbing, painting or auto repair can be exposed to lead.
  • Keep children away from remodeling work.
  • Use only wet techniques when removing paint-never dry sand or scrape. Call professionals for bigger jobs.

For more information, use the NYS Department of Health Website