What are zoonoses? (zo-o-no’-sez-) These are diseases that can be spread from animals to humans under natural conditions, such as rabies, west nile virus, salmonella, monkey pox, sars, and plague to mention a few of the more well know zoonoses.
Rabies is a potentially fatal viral disease that affects the nervous system. It is most commonly spread by a bite from an infected animal. All mammals are capable of being infected with rabies, but it is most often seen in wild mammals such as raccoons, skunk, fox, and bat with occasional spillover into other species. Domestic animals, like cats, dogs, ferrets and livestock can also get rabies if they are not protected by vaccination. Some animals almost never get rabies. These include wild rabbits, squirrels, opossum, chipmunks, rats, mice, guinea pigs, gerbils and hamsters.
Did you know that animals need to be vaccinated every 3 years against rabies? There are two main reasons for vaccinating your pet: to keep them from getting rabies, and to protect yourself. At any time your pet could come in contact with an animal that could potentially be carrying rabies, including: raccoons, bats, skunks, coyotes, and foxes.
Did you also know that if your animal is unvaccinated and gets in a “scuffle” with a potentially rabid animal they will have to be quarantined? Quarantine means that your dog, cat, or other loved pet is isolated from humans. That means no playing, cuddling, or any contact to a human! Quarantines last for 6 months!
World Rabies Day is September 28th, 2016, so please remember to vaccinate your pets against Rabies. Remember, pets are family too!
RABIES IN BATS
Although bats are beneficial to our environment, they are mammals and can be infected with rabies. Exposures occur in the same manner that they do with other mammals. A bats teeth are very small and very sharp, in certain instances, it could be possible for a bite from a bat to go undetected. Such situations may occur when a bat is found next to a an unattended young child or pet, or when a bat is found in a room with a person who is sleeping. If there is any chance that a bat may have had contact with a person or pet, the bat should be captured if possible and placed into a secure container so it can be tested for rabies. Call your local health agency for further advice.
If you are absolutely certain that there has been no contact between a bat found in your home and any human or pet, open a window and watch the bat until you see it leave.
To capture a bat,confine the bat to one room if possible and turn on the lights. Close all the windows, closets, and doors. Stand quietly and wait for the bat to land. Wearing gloves, place a coffee can, or similar container over the bat. Slide a piece of cardboard under the container trapping the bat inside. Holding the cardboard firmly against the top turn it right side up and tape the cardboard tightly to the container, then call your local health agency for further advise. If you cannot capture the bat call Wayne County Public Health or 911 for assistance.
More Information on Bats and Rabies go to:
How To Safely Catch A Bat
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF RABIES IN ANIMALS?
Behavioral changes characterize the signs and symptoms of an animal that is infected with rabies. Symptoms at first, can be so subtle they are not recognized as signs of rabies infection, especially because the infected animal may look healthy. Behavioral changes such as, refusing to eat or drink,hind quarters paralysis,a marked change in voice and a staggering “drunken” gait are all signs you might observe in a sick animal. Wild animals may lose their fear of natural enemies or people and appear friendly. A normally friendly pet may become withdrawn and irritable. As the disease progresses, the animal may become aggressive, snapping at anything in its path, you may witness “frothing” at the mouth and convulsions which lead to death. This disease also mimics many other animal diseases, such as canine distemper, feline parvo, poisoning, trauma, concussion, parasite infestation and can only be diagnosed by a lab.
HOW DO PEOPLE BECOME EXPOSED TO RABIES?
The normal route of exposure to rabies is through a bite or scratch from an infected animal. Exposure may also occur if saliva from an infected animal enters a bleeding open wound or comes in contact with an individuals eyes, mouth or nose. If you are bitten by any animal, even your own pet, wash the wound thoroughly with lots of soap and warm water, then contact your health care provider and local health agency for further evaluation.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF, MY FAMILY AND MY PETS FROM RABIES?
“If its not your own, leave it alone.” is a good rule of thumb. Don’t feed, touch, or adopt stray/wild animals. Keep your pets and valuable livestock vaccinated against rabies. Pets too young to be vaccinated, should be kept indoors. Don’t allow pets to roam at large without supervision. Don’t invite wildlife to your home or yard. Keep your property free of foods that will attract unwanted wild or stray animals. Always feed your pets indoors. Capping your chimney is an easy and inexpensive way to keep out unwanted guests. If a wild animal is found on your property, bring your children and pets inside and let it wander off on its own. This may take a while, but they will leave. If you do not want to wait for them to leave on their own, you can choose to contact a nuisance wildlife trapper who will come and remove the animal for a fee.