The Amherst Health Department has been notified that a sheep tested positive for rabies at Pioneer Valley Co-Housing, located at 120 Pulpit Hill Road, Amherst. Rabid animals can spread the virus through their saliva. Any person who has contact with saliva through a bite, or if saliva gets into a fresh wound, the eyes, nose or mouth, can be exposed to the virus.
Depending on the nature and circumstances of a person’s contact with the animal, rabies post-exposure vaccination may be warranted. It is recommended that anyone who had direct contact with the animal in the 14 days prior to Saturday - October 8, 2011, be evaluated to see if rabies vaccination is appropriate.
Rabies is an almost uniformly fatal disease once it develops. Fortunately, it can be prevented with appropriate wound treatment and prompt administration of rabies vaccine after exposure. The vaccination consists of both rabies immune globulin (RIG) and vaccine. RIG is given once with the first dose of rabies vaccine in order to provide immediate protection. The vaccine series consists of four shots, the first dose administered promptly after the exposure and then again 3, 7, and 14 days later. Persons with suppressed immunity should receive an additional dose of vaccine on day 28.
If you are concerned that you or your animal may have been exposed, please contact your healthcare provider, State Department of Public Health: 617-983-6800 (available 24 hours), the Amherst Health Department: 413-259-3077, or Animal Welfare Officer Carol Hepburn: 413-478-7084 for more information.