Communicable Disease Program


NYS DOH requires reporting of certain communicable diseases.  The local health department is responsible for a communicable disease program designed to minimize the incidence and impact of communicable diseases.

Mandated activities include all disease-specific protocols established by NYSDOH:

✅ Conducting surveillance of communicable diseases;

✅ Investigating suspected or confirmed communicable diseases as reported by mandated reporters (providers, labs, schools, and others);

✅ Reporting public health communicable disease threats to NYSDOH;

✅ Verifying diagnoses and identifying sources of infections;

✅ Minimizing the spread of disease through early identification and prophylaxis of exposed persons;

✅ Maintaining the capacity to perform multiple simultaneous investigations; and

✅ Communicating [at least annually] with health care providers, clinics and laboratories about local data, diagnostic and treatment modalities and reporting requirements.


What is a Communicable Disease?

A communicable disease is one that is spread from one person to another through a variety of ways that include: contact with blood and bodily fluids; breathing in an airborne virus; or by being bitten by an animal or insect.


As a local health department we are responsible for rabies surveillance, prevention and control.  Our activities include:

✅ Following NYS Public Health Law that regulates rabies investigations for people and animals;

✅ Issuing notices of confinement or quarantine as necessary to prevent potential disease spread;

✅Ensuring people receive treatment for rabies exposures (called rabies post exposure prophylaxis (PEP);

✅ Providing rabies education & outreach;

✅ Providing free vaccination clinics throughout the county; and

✅ Completing all rabies reporting requirements.

Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system and if untreated, leads to death.

The virus is found in saliva, mucous membrane (eyes, nose, mouth) & nervous tissue (brain and spinal cord) fluid of infected animals.

Only mammals (including people) can get rabies.

In our area, rabies most often occurs in wild animals including raccoons, fox, coyotes, skunk, porcupines, groundhogs and bats.

Livestock including cattle, horses, goat, sheep and swine, can also get rabies.

Small rodents like mice, squirrels, chipmunks, rats and rabbits rarely get rabies.

Reptiles and amphibians don’t get rabies.

Behavior of animals with rabies

Animals with rabies may show unusual behavior for their species –

  • Friendliness
  • Irritability
  • Aggressiveness
  • Staggering
  • Convulsing
  • Choking

Once an animal starts showing unusual behavior due to rabies it will typically die within 10 days or less.


Exposure to the rabies virus most often happens by an infected animal biting another animal.

Exposures can also happen if infectious material from a rabid animal (saliva, brain tissue, spinal fluid) has contact with an open wound or mucous membrane.  Direct contact with a rabid or potentially rabid animal where a bite, open wound or mucous membrane contact cannot be ruled out – such as a bat in a room with a sleeping person, unattended child, intoxicated or otherwise mentally compromised person – are considered exposures. If there is any chance of exposure to a bat contact this health department immediately to discuss the situation.

Indirect contact – being in the same space, contact with feces or an object that had contact with a rabid or potentially rabid animal - is not considered an exposure.

If you have been bitten, scratched or have had contact with the saliva of an animal that you believe is rabid, wash the wound immediately with soap and water, and call your health care provider for care of wounds and a consult.

If your doctor recommends treatment, call this Department for assistance in planning treatment.  It is critical that before seeking rabies treatment - post exposure prophylaxis shots - the bite or exposure is reported to this Department.

Mon-Fri 8 AM  -  5 PM & After Business Hours 518-873-3500     

If You or Your Pet is bitten or has another exposure

  1. Wash the wound with soap and water
  2. Contact your veterinarian – the vet will decide if your pet needs to be vaccinated again
  3. Report all animal bites /exposures to Essex County Health Department

Protect Your Pets and Livestock

The rabies virus can take weeks to months  to incubate in an animal before the animal acts unusually or rabid.  Protect yourself, your pets and livestock :

  1. Keep pet dogs, cats & ferrets up-to-date on their rabies vaccines
  2. Vaccinate livestock as recommended by your veterinarian
  3. Stay away from wild and stray animals
  4. Avoid attracting stray and wild animals


    *  Store bird seed, pet food & garbage indoors.

    *  Do not feed pets outdoors.

    *  Tightly lock outdoor compost & garbage.


New York State rabies law requires all pets (dogs, cats, ferrets) to be vaccinated against rabies by 4 months of age.

First time vaccinations of pets are good for 1 year.  Booster vaccinations - those received after prior vaccination - are effective for 3 years.

This Pet Owner Fact Sheet  is a good list of frequently asked questions and answers about pet ownership and rabies.  Owners of pets too young to be vaccinated should be kept on a leash when outdoors or in a physically confined area.

Rabies Vaccination Clinics for Pets

This Department provides free rabies vaccine clinics for all pet dogs, cats and ferrets throughout Essex County every year.  Donations of $5 per pet is appreciated.  

To ensure the safety of our staff, residents & pets, please:

  1. Pre-register for the clinic online or by calling 518-873-3500;
  2. Expect a “drive-up” clinic flow. Remain in your vehicle and await instructions.
  3. Anyone with proof of previous vaccination is asked to snap a picture & email it to:
    All others will be given a 1 year certificate. Those that bring proof of prior vaccination (certificate) will be mailed a 3 year certificate.

You must have a certificate as proof of vaccination.

This Department is not able to accept a tag as proof of vaccination.

**Keep pets in vehicles unless directed otherwise.

Pre-Register - Rabies Clinics 2023

NOTE: We know how busy pet clinics can be. Pre-registration helps people & pets move most quickly through the clinic line; it doesn't mean those who have pre-registered won't have to wait in line. Our goal is to serve 60 pets/hour - that's 1 pet/minute!

Handling Dead Animals

  1. Wear gloves and use a shovel to pick up the animal
  2. Double bag, knot and throw away the animal OR bury the animal 3’ deep
  3. Wash gloves and shovel with a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water for about 20 minutes
  4. Thoroughly wash hands with soap & water

About Bats

  • Not all bats have rabies. In fact most bats don’t have rabies.
  • Rabies is found in all bat species in NY.
  • Rabies can be transmitted from bats to other mammals but rabid bats rarely attack people.
  • Rabid bats may show unusual behavior like fluttering on the ground, flying during the day, or biting people or animals.

  • Avoid direct contact with all bats – bats have small teeth that may leave marks not easily seen.
  • If there is a chance a bat had direct contact with a person or pet OR if you awaken to or find a bat in a room where someone was sleeping, try to catch it so it can be given to Essex County Health Department & tested.
  • Call 873-3500 for advice on what to do and watch this short video on the best way to capture a bat. 

Additional Resources

New York State Department of Health Rabies Site

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rabies Site

Wildlife Rehabilitators

Wildlife Rehabilitators are licensed through NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.  Find a wildlife Rehabilitator Near Your (search by county).


RABIES - Clinics, Wild Animal Interactions & more

RABIES (CDC) - Transmission, what is an "exposure"& when to seek care


TICKS - Lyme Disease & Other Diseases Ticks Carry; Tick removal & more (NYSDOH)

TICKS- Proofing Your Yard, Preventing bites, Diseases Ticks Carry (CDC)


Mpox Clinics

Monkeypox College Guidance (NYSDOH)

Monkeypox and Sexual Health (NYSDOH)

Monkeypox in New York State - June 2022 (NYSDOH)

Monkeypox - Frequently Asked Questions (CDC)


Keeping Backyard Poultry (CDC)

Don't Play Chicken With Your Health -Salmonella Outbreak Awareness

Healthy Families and Flocks

Learn About Salmonella Infection





KNOZIKA VIRUS (NYS Department of Health)

Mosquito Bite Prevention for Travelers

Zika Virus Testing - (NYSDOH)

Pregnancy Travel Advisory (NYSDOH)

Zika Virus- Locations, Questions, Pregnancy Risks & more (CDC)


NYSDOH has a comprehensive Hepatitis C website with sections dedicated to community members & providers.  Find testing, patient navigator resources, and support groups.

Help‑4‑Hep is a non-profit, peer-to-peer helpline where counselors work with patients to meet the challenges of hepatitis C head-on. Callers talk one-on-one with a real person, typically someone who has been personally affected by hepatitis C. The phone call, support, information, and linkage to care are all provided free of charge.

Help-4-Hep can help with client communications, support, referrals, and linkage to care.  Call toll-free 877-435-7443 or visit the website.

*Please note, The Health Department does not have Flu Vaccines at this time. *Please note, The Health Department does not have Flu Vaccines at this time. We are maximizing our efforts to ensure COVID-19 Boosters to all eligible as the demand remains high. To assist in finding flu vaccine locations in Essex County, please visit the link Flu Vaccine Finder.

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Some people, such as people 65 years and older, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at higher risk of serious flu complications. There are two main types of influenza (flu) viruses: types A and B. The influenza A and B viruses that routinely spread in people (human influenza viruses) are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year.

The best way to reduce the risk of flu and its potentially serious complications is by getting vaccinated each year.

❓What to know for 2023-2024 
🛠Toolkit: Flu Vaccination for Children
🗺Flu Vaccine Finder

What's NEW 2023-2024?

Learn more about prevention, symptoms, diagnosis & treatment

Get your flu vaccine by scheduling an appointment with your regular medical provider or at your local pharmacy. 

Find locations offering flu vaccines through HealthMap Vaccine Finder.

Flu Vaccine Information Statement

Patient Bill of Rights

Notice of Privacy Practice

The Flu: A Guide for Parents

La influenza: Una guía para los padres

Грипп. Руководство для родителей

Flu Vaccine Information Statement

Patient Bill of Rights

Notice of Privacy Practice

Decades of research show that vaccines prevent disease. An overwhelming number of studies also show that they are safe and effective. But in recent years, some people have become concerned that vaccines are more dangerous than the diseases they prevent. An aggressive anti-vaccine movement is fueling their fears. Unfortunately, this has led some to delay or avoid vaccination.

It’s also one reason we are seeing the return of so many preventable diseases – like measles, mumps and whooping cough.

As a local health department we must:

  • ensure compliance with all immunization statutes and regulations;
  • assist with and follow-up on school immunization surveys;
  • provide education regarding the risks and benefits of immunizations for consumers;
  • conduct quality assurance activities with community health care providers including immunization practices, proper vaccine storage and handling, and compliance with immunization reporting requirements;
  • ensure proper stewardship of immunization resources and serve as a safety-net immunization provider; and
  • apply cost-based charges and make reasonable attempts to bill and collect fees for immunization services.

Flu Vaccine Information Statement

Patient Bill of Rights

Notice of Privacy Practice

Statement on Legislation Removing Non-Medical Exemption from School Vaccination Requirements

School Vaccination Requirements - NYSDOH Site Including Frequently Asked Questions

2022-2023 NYS Immunization Requirements for School Attendance Printable

Call for appointments 518-873-3500. 

COVID-19 Vaccine

Please visit our COVID-19 Vax page for the most up to date information

We can bill Medicaid, Medicare Part B, Child Health Plus, Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield or Fidelis Managed Care.  Present your card at your appointment to receive services at no charge.  If you are not covered by these health insurances we will provide you a receipt for service that you may submit to your insurance company to seek reimbursement.

This Department charges an at-cost rate plus administration fee —our rate/fees are adjusted down using a sliding fee scale based on household income.

We can now accept payment with GovPayNet - so you can swipe your debit or credit card here at our office or pay online.

Before you pay with GovPayNet we advise you to read the 2017 GovPayNet Fee Schedule and 2017 GovPayNet Terms of Service.

Please call our office at 518-873-3500 if you have questions about immunizations, fees or payment.

Top Immunization searches

Current immunization recommendations

School Requirements

Top 20 Questions and Answers About Immunizations 

We also field calls about vaccines and cancer prevention - such as the HPV vaccine.  

Traveler's Clinics

Mountain Medical Urgent Care Services call 518-523-7575 or 518-897-1000

Plattsburgh Industrial Med. Testing call 518-562-2009

St. Lawrence County Department of Health Department call 315-386-2325

Warren County Public Health call 518-761-6580

In Vermont, UVM Travel Clinic call 802-847-1045

Traveler's Vaccinations

In addition to the above requirements, we continually:

✅ conduct outreach and education about communicable diseases and incidence of diseases in Essex County,

✅ promote prevention strategies including immunizations for vaccine preventable diseases, and

✅ provide updates regarding ECHD programs and services to community partners and the community at large.

See these tabs for more information about our Communicable Disease Program including: