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What is it?
Rabies is a disease caused by a virus found in the saliva of infected animals. It is transmitted to pets and humans by bites, or possibly by contamination of an open cut. Treatment of an infected person is critical. There is a human rabies vaccine available for pre-exposure and a globulin treatment with vaccination for post-exposure prophylaxis. Left untreated, rabies causes a painful death.

Most animals can be infected by the virus and can transmit the disease to other animals and to humans. The greatest risk to humans comes from infected raccoons, foxes, skunks, bats, dogs or cats. Rabies may also spread through exposure to infected domestic farm animals, groundhogs , weasels and other wild carnivores (meat-eating animals). Squirrels, rabbits and rodents are seldom infected.

How can you prevent rabies?
  • Have your pets vaccinated against rabies. Any pets which come in contact with wild animals are at risk. Your veterinarian can vaccinate your pet against rabies.
  • Rabies vaccinations for dogs have been required for over 25 years. But in recent years, since confirmed cases of rabies in cats have exceeded the reported cases in dogs, some areas of the United States now also require vaccination and booster shots for cats. Winnebago County requires rabies shots for cats. As of this time, Boone County still does not.
  • If your cat or dog has been bitten or attacked by a wild animal or has bites or scratches of unknown origin, call your local animal control officer to report the incident.
  • If your cat or dog has bitten a person, call animal control officer to report the incident.
  • If your cat or dog is sick, seek the advice of your veterinarian.
  • Protect your pets from stray or wild animals. Keep your pets from running loose.
  • Report stray animals to your animal control officer so they can investigate. Handling stray cats or dogs can be dangerous.
  • Do not feed or handle wild animals especially those that appear aggressive or sick. Never keep a wild animal as a pet.
Rabies - What to do if you are bitten
  • A wild animal such as a bat, raccoon, fox, skunk, or groundhog which has bitten a person or domestic animal should be sacrificed immediately. It's head (or in the case of a bat, the entire bat) should be submitted to your state or county testing laboratory for examination. Again, all biting wild animals must be tested for rabies as soon as possible - as time is critical! In the case of a stray, the local news may put a description of the animal on the air in hopes that the owners will come forward with proof of a current rabies vaccination.
  • If you are bitten by a dog or cat; get information about the pet animal. Include a description of the animal and licensing number or identification, owner's name, address, telephone number and the rabies vaccination status whenever available.
  • Immediately cleanse the wound thoroughly with soapy water.
  • Get medical attention, NOW! DO NOT DELAY. Go to your family doctor or nearest emergency room. Rabies prophylaxis vaccinations may depend on your physician along with laboratory results.
  • Report all bites to your local health department or animal control agency. NOTE* Animal Control is listed in the Government section of ComPortOne under the appropriate county.

Please don't feed the animals!

  • Examine your buildings and yard. Remove all sources of food.
  • Keep garbage cans in the garage or shed. Keep them covered with animal-proof lids.
  • Preferably, don't feed your own pets outside. If you must feed pets outside, remove any uneaten food quickly.
  • Remember gardens attract wildlife such as raccoons. Consider ways to make your garden less appealing such as low voltage electric fence. Check with your county extension or experienced gardeners for other suggestions.
What to do if they are already your tenants?
  • If they're already raising young; wait for the young to leave the den. Many animals become very aggressive if they believe their young are in danger.
  • When you're sure that there are no young or that the young ones are gone, watch the entrance at dusk and block it up after the animals leave for the night. But remember, some animals have more than one entrance.
  • Another good idea is to mount a flap of wood or heavy gauge wire on a hinge over the hole so that the animal can push it out to leave, but can't push it back in to re-enter.
  • Arrange a bright light so it shines into the den during the day, or place a loud playing radio (preferably rock!) by their den all day to discourage the animal from sleeping.
  • If the animal refuses to leave, call your local animal control officer. They can set live traps for the animals.
  • Report any stray domestic or wild animals behaving strangely to your local animal control officer. ...And keep your distance!
Don't invite them over
  • Check your house and property. Eliminate possible animal nesting sites.
  • Cap all chimneys. Plug all holes in roofs, eaves, or sides of buildings.
  • Block entries to foundations, porches and steps. (Even the small ones!)
  • Trim tree limbs that extend to or over your roof. (That is also better for the life of your roof.)
  • Provide bright exterior lighting to discourage nocturnal (night) animals. We use the motion-detector kind.
  • Encourage your neighbors to do the same, so the whole neighborhood is unfriendly to wildlife.

REMEMBER - Prevention is your best defense against rabies!

Information source:
Winnebago County Animal Services

Animal Care Home Page
ComPortOne Home Page

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