Posts Tagged ‘Rabies Awareness Week’

     Because Rabies is present and active in Virginia, public health authorities take the possibility of its transmission very seriously.  

     Unvaccinated pets that bite people or are bitten by a wild animal can be subject to euthanasia.  Euthanasia is necessary to test the animal’s brain tissue for the presence of disease.  

     Pets that have an up-to-date Rabies vaccination are often merely quarantined, by contrast.  To preserve your pet’s life, whether it bites a person or is bitten by an animal, preventative Rabies vaccination is its best hope.

     Follow these guidelines if your pet has bitten someone:

  • Tell the person bitten to see a doctor immediately.  Report the bite to the local health department.  If your pet is a dog, cat, or ferret, they will probably have you confine the animal and watch it closely for 10 days.  Report any illness or unusual behavior to your local health department and veterinarian immediately.
  • Don’t let the animal stray, and don’t give the animal away. It must be available for observation by public health authorities.
  • Don’t kill your pet or allow it to be killed unless you have been instructed to do so by the public health authorities.
  • After the recommended observation period, have your pet vaccinated for Rabies if it does not have a current vaccination.
(Resource:  Virginia Department of Health)
This article was originally slated to appear Thursday, Sept. 29th.  I apologize for its delay. 

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     Yesterday, I wrote about the known cases of rabid animals in a few local cities.  Although the chance of being bitten by a potentially rabid animal may seem remote, knowing what to do in the event of a bite is key. 

     Follow these guidelines, presented by the Virginia Department of Health:

  • Don’t panic…but don’t ignore the bite, either.  Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and lots of water.  Washing thoroughly will greatly lessen the chance of infection.  Give first aid as you would for any wound.
  • If possible, capture the animal under a large box or can, or at least identify it before it runs away.  Don’t try to pick the animal up.  Call an animal control or law enforcement officer to come get it.
  • If it’s a wild animal that must be killed, don’t damage the head.  The brain will be needed to test for Rabies.  Don’t let anyone destroy wild animals at random just because there may be a Rabies outbreak in your area.  Only a few wild animals will be carrying Rabies.
  • It’s critically important that you notify your family doctor and explain how you got the bite.  Your doctor will want to know if the animal has been captured.  If necessary, your doctor will give the anti-Rabies treatment recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service.  Your doctor will also treat you for other possible infections that could be caused from the bite.
  • Report the bite to the local health department.

     More information on Rabies exposure and treatment in people can be found at the CDC website here.

Thursday:  If your pet has bitten someone

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       Today marks the beginning of Rabies Awareness Week around the globe.  You may be wondering “Who in the developed world isn’t already aware of Rabies – a deadly zoonotic disease that can be passed from animals to humans and from humans to humans?” 

     Certainly by now, many of us are well-informed on what Rabies is (a virus found in mammals only) and what it does (attacks the nervous system, leading to death.)  But do you know what’s going on in your own backyard?  I did some research here and put together the facts:

Rabies Cases in 2010
Chesapeake…………….1 raccoon
…………………….1 cat, 4 raccoons
Portsmouth…………….1 fox, 1 raccoon
……………………..2 foxes, 1 raccoon, 1 skunk
Virginia Beach
……….1 bat, 2 foxes, 6 raccoons

Rabies Cases in 2011 (through Sept. 10th)
Chesapeake……………..1 fox, 1 raccoon
……………………..1 fox, 1 raccoon
……………..1 fox, 1 raccoon
………………………2 cats, 6 foxes, 1 raccoon, 1 skunk
Virginia Beach
………..2 foxes, 3 raccoons

     As you can see, Suffolk and Virginia Beach have racked up some scary numbers for the past two years in a row.  And consider this – these numbers represent only actual documented cases.  In other words, there are more animals that have the disease, but are never caught and counted.

     Quick tips:

  • Keep your pet’s Rabies vaccination up-to-date.  Even indoor pets need protection – and don’t forget your ferret.
  • Do not allow your pet to chase wild animals or chew on carcasses.
  • Keep pets on-leash during walks, to lessen the chance they will chase wildlife.
  • Do not attempt to rehabilitate sick or injured wildlife. 
  • Contact your local animal control office if you believe an animal is acting strangely.

Tomorrow:  What to do if you’ve been bitten


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