How to avoid rabies

1 year ago

When I had two very spoiled and lazy kitties that spent most of their days lounging around inside my house, there was little concern when it came to rabies. But for those of you who have pets that venture outside, especially in the more rural areas, then the possibility of being bitten by a diseased animal increases.

Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals, and 50,000 people die from rabies worldwide each year. The virus is spread when infected animals bite or scratch a person or another animal. The virus can also be spread if saliva or tissue from the brain or spinal cord of a rabid animal touches broken skin or gets into the mouth, nose or eyes of a person or another animal.

All mammals are susceptible to rabies, but a few wildlife species seem more likely to contract the disease, including raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. While wildlife is more apt to be rabid than are domestic animals in the United States, domestic animals can be infected when they are bitten by wild animals.

Pet owners can take important steps to protect their pets from rabies.

Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all dogs, cats and ferrets.

Keep your pets on your property and especially keep an eye on them when outdoors.

Notify your animal control department to remove stray animals from your neighborhood since these animals may be unvaccinated or ill.

If your pet is bitten or scratched by another animal, call your veterinarian to find out if it needs medical attention. Report all animal bites to the town in which the bite occurred.

The early signs of rabies typically include behavioral changes. The animal may appear anxious, aggressive or more friendly than normal. As the disease progresses, animals develop hypersensitivity to light and sound. They may also experience seizures and/or become extremely vicious. The final stage of rabies is, sadly, paralysis and eventually respiratory failure.

So, it is very important to do your part in keeping your beloved pet (and yourself) safe. Rabies in humans is preventable through prompt appropriate medical care. If you or someone you know is bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the wound right away with soap and water. Contact your healthcare provider to find out if you need to be treated for a rabies exposure. Medical care can generally be delayed if the biting animal is domestic and can be confined for 10 days.

Here’s to a wonderful and safe summer.

Stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society or check us out on Facebook. Please be responsible: spay and neuter your pets.

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the Central Aroostook Humane Society board of directors.