Rabies can be a threat

First Posted: 5/31/2009

Summertime is upon us, and well begin to venture outside more. Enjoying the season, well encounter nature a lot more, which means we run the risk of running into animals, both domestic and wild, that have the potential of contracting rabies.
Wild animals in North Carolina likely to be infected with the rabies virus include raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. Domestic animals like dogs, cats, and farm animals can get rabies from wild animals. Thats why its so important to vaccinate your pets and livestock.
To date, there have been 10 cases of rabies reported in Surry County since July 2008. Although the number of cases may be small, rabies is a very serious and possibly fatal disease.
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system. Due to vaccinations, the rabies virus is rare in the United States especially among domestic animals. Rabies is 100 percent fatal if its not treated before symptoms appear. Its also 100 percent preventable.
If one is been bitten, thoroughly wash the wound with lots of soap and water and call a doctor immediately. If there is a chance you may have been exposed to rabies, or if the animal is caught and it tests positive for rabies, you may need to get a series of shots to prevent rabies. You cant wait to see if you get sick, because there is no known cure once the disease develops.
While many people are aware that raccoons, foxes and unvaccinated dogs and cats may carry rabies, many dont know that bats can also transmit this deadly disease to people. And because bats are small and quiet, and their bites are usually painless, people dont always realize when they have been bitten.
Never touch, pet or feed wild animals, whether they appear to be sick or not. Open containers of food including pet food or garbage may attract these animals to your yard or campsite, so keep garbage and food in tightly sealed containers and feed pets indoors. If you are bitten by a wild animal, contact a doctor immediately.
Avoid any physical contact with unfamiliar dogs and cats. Pet only animals that you know have been vaccinated against rabies. Make sure your own pets have up-to-date rabies vaccinations, and dont leave your pets outdoors unattended. Dont try to separate animals that are fighting. If your pet comes in contact with an animal that might be rabid, contact your veterinarian. If you are bitten by someones pet, get the owners name, address, and telephone number; and follow the guideline of washing the wound thoroughly with soap and water; and contacting your doctor.
This information provided by the North Carolina Division of Health and Human Services.

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