submitted by VCA Neshaminy Animal Hospital
Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report rabies cases occur in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Though most rabies cases occur in wildlife, unvaccinated pets and pets with an expired vaccination are at risk.
Dogs and cats should be kept up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.
If an encounter with a wild animal takes place, domestic animals with an expired rabies vaccination or without any rabies vaccinations may be classified as high-risk and be required to undergo a quarantine process. In addition to rabies vaccinations, the following precautions should be taken:
- Avoid contact with any wild animals, especially any that act in an unusual manner; healthy wild animals generally avoid human contact. Teach children to stay away from all wild animals, stray domestic pets, or any dead animals, and to tell an adult if they are scratched or bitten.
- Wildlife suffering from rabies will often be out during the day, may behave violently and/or aggressively approach people or pets, and might also stumble or have trouble walking. Suspicious wildlife activity or deaths should be reported to your local Animal Control Agency (typically skunks, raccoons, foxes, and bats).
- Do not let pets roam freely since this can increase the chance of exposure without your knowledge. Contact your veterinarian if your dog or cat is bitten or scratched by a wild animal.
- If a person has been bitten or scratched by a wild mammal, they should wash the area thoroughly with soap and water, seek immediate medical attention and notify their local public health agency. Prompt medical treatment is the key to preventing rabies after a possible exposure.
- Do not feed wild animals since this reduces their natural fear of humans and insure pet food is not left outside.
More information is available at www.cdc.gov/rabies.