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Protect Your Family From Rabies

Author: SuperUser Account/Monday, May 14, 2012/Categories: General

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 Rabies is a dangerous disease caused by a virus that can infect both people and animals. Anyone who
handles or is bitten by a rabid animal is at risk of acquiring this deadly disease. Rabies is preventable,
but incurable once signs and symptoms occur. The rabies virus attacks the nervous system. Early signs
and symptoms of rabies in people may include fever, headache and weakness. As the disease progresses,
individuals may experience difficulty sleeping, anxiety, confusion, tingling sensation usually at the site of
the bite, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, salivating more than usual, difficulty swallowing and fear of
water. Death usually occurs within days of the onset of signs and symptoms.
More than 90% of all animal rabies cases reported to the CDC each year occur in wild animals:
primarily, raccoons, skunks, fox and bats. One of the best ways to protect yourself and your family is to
avoid contact with wild or stray domestic animals. Do not feed or handle wild or unfamiliar domestic
animals, even if they appear friendly. Never approach or touch a wild animal that appears sick or dead.
Teach children to report any unusual animal behavior to adults right away, because it could mean rabies.
Unvaccinated family pets and other domestic animals can get rabies if they are bitten by rabid wild
animals. When rabies from wild animals "spills over" into domestic animals, the risk to people is
increased because of our close contact with pets. In general, pets have a higher risk of coming into
contact with wild animals that may have rabies than we do. To help reduce this risk:

  • Bring your pet to the veterinarian on a regular basis and keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats, ferrets and dogs.
  •  Maintain control of your pet by keeping cats and ferrets indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision when outdoors. Never allow pets to roam free.
  • Do not feed or water your pets outside and keep your garbage securely covered. These items may attract wild or stray animals.
  • Individuals awaking to bats in a sleeping area of a home should be considered at risk of exposure. Bat bites may not be felt or visible. Never touch a bat with your bare hands. Do not let the bat out a window. Place a bowl or

pail over the bat and contact the Department of Health.
If you or someone in your family is exposed to a rabid animal, rabies infection can be prevented
through a series of rabies shots called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) over a 28 day period. However,
the best prevention is to vaccinate your pets and avoid contact with other animals. If you or someone in
your care is bitten by any animal (domestic or wild), immediately wash the area with soap and water and
call your healthcare provider. Public Health Law requires all animal bites to be reported to the health
department so public health officers can determine the risk of exposure to rabies and manage animal and
human follow-up. All bite or bat incidents occurring in Niagara County or to Niagara County residents
should be reported immediately to the Niagara County Department of Health at 716-439-7444 during
business hours (8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) or 716-439-7430 (holidays or non-business hours).
While very few people in the U.S. die of rabies, life-threatening situations can arise when potential
exposures occur and preventive measures are not taken. Each year, 30,000 to 40,000 persons in the U.S.
require PEP because of potential exposure to rabid animals. To help ensure your loved ones do not face
similar risks, use the above information to talk with your children and other family members about the
dangers of rabies, the threat of exposure from wild animals and the things they need to do to stay healthy
and rabies free. Read The Official Press Release Here.

 

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