Summer sick call of the wild: rabies FAQs

***image1***Summer is upon us. For many, the summer season is a time to get back to
nature. But take care when wandering through the great outdoors –
especially if you have an encounter with a wild animal. Remember,
there’s a reason some animals are called “wild.”

What is rabies and how do people get it?
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system
of humans and other mammals.  People get rabies from the bite of
an animal with rabies (called a rabid animal). Any wild mammal – like a
raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote, or bat – can have rabies and transmit it
to people. It is also possible, but quite rare, that people may get
rabies if infectious material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, gets
directly into their eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound.

What do I do if I am bitten by an animal?
If you are bitten by an animal, immediately wash the wound with soap
and water for at least five minutes. You should then see your doctor or
report to the ER as soon as possible for additional evaluation of the
wound. Contact your local veterinarian. If the animal that bit you is a
pet (dog, cat, or ferret), the animal may be watched for signs of
rabies for about 10 days. If it is a wild animal, it may need to be
captured to test it for rabies.

How soon after infection do symptoms appear?
The incubation period is variable but is normally three to eight weeks.
Incubation periods shorter than three weeks and more than eight weeks
have also occurred. Incubation periods of up to several years have been
reported but are rare.

How do I keep my pet from getting rabies?
The best way to prevent rabies is to make sure your pet is vaccinated
against rabies. Consider keeping your pet indoors. If an animal bites
your pet, handle your pet carefully to avoid getting bit or scratched.
Get them a rabies booster even if they have had the rabies vaccination
for a booster shot will help them fight off the disease better.

Prevention is key to good health.  For more rabies information
contact Public Health at 479-2234. (Courtesy of the 435th Medical Group
– Public Health)

• Never touch unfamiliar or wild animals.  Enjoy wild animals from afar.

• Avoid direct contact with stray animals such as cats and dogs that may not have been vaccinated.

• Get vaccinated against rabies.

• Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.

• Do not try to nurse sick animals to health.  It is common to
want to rescue and nurse a hurt wild animal, but that animal may have
rabies.  If you encounter an injured animal contact the local vet
for assistance.

• Make sure your trash can is covered and pet foods are secured so that they do not attract wild animals.