World Rabies Day – a day to help raise awareness of rabies.
World Rabies Day
According to the CDC, September 28 is World Rabies Day, a global health observance started in 2007 to raise awareness about rabies and bring together partners to enhance prevention and control efforts worldwide. World Rabies Day is observed in many countries, including the United States.
Rabies is 100% preventable, but more than 59,000 people die from the disease each year.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself and Others from Rabies
Whether you are a pet owner, a parent, an outdoor adventurer or a backyard explorer, there are steps you can take to keep yourself and your family free from rabies throughout the year.
1. Take Pets to a Veterinarian for Their Rabies Shot
Pets, like dogs, cats, and ferrets, need to see a veterinarian regularly. A veterinarian can make sure your pets are up to date on their rabies shot, which can protect them from getting rabies. All dogs and cats should be vaccinated around four months of age, and then again one year later. After these two shots, your veterinarian will develop a vaccination plan that is best for your pet and complies with local laws. This is important, since animals that have not received a rabies shot and are in contact with potentially rabid wild animals may need to be quarantined for six months or euthanized.
Talk to your veterinarian about spaying or neutering your pet. This helps cut down on the number of unwanted and stray animals, which often do not have their rabies shot and are in close contact with wild animals.
2. Keep Away From Wildlife and Unfamiliar Animals
In the United States, more than 90% of all animal rabies cases reported to CDC each year occur in wild animals. The main animals that get rabies are raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes.
One of the best ways to protect yourself and your family is to avoid contact with wild animals. Do not feed or handle them, even if they seem friendly.
You should also avoid dogs and cats that are unfamiliar to you and your family. These animals may be in contact with wildlife and can also spread rabies to humans.
If you see an animal acting strangely, report it to animal control or your local health department. Some things to look for are:
- General sickness
- Problems swallowing
- Lots of drool or saliva
- An animal that appears more tame than you would expect
- An animal that bites at everything
- An animal that’s having trouble moving or may even be paralyzed
Sometimes, people may come across a dead animal. Never pick up or touch dead animals. The rabies virus may still be present in the saliva or nervous tissue, especially if they have only been dead for a short time. If you see a dead animal, call animal control to take care of the animal’s body.
3. Keep Your Pets Indoors or Supervised
No matter where you live, rabies can threaten your family’s health. Fortunately, there are things you can do around the home to help reduce the risk of getting rabies.
- Keep your pets indoors. When you let your dog or cat go outside, it’s best to have a fenced-in yard and make sure someone is there to watch it and keep it safe. Use a leash when walking your dog.
- Do not feed or put water for your pets outside and keep garbage securely covered. These items may attract wild animals or stray animals to your yard.
- Teach children never to handle wild animals or unfamiliar domestic animals.
While most wild animals are found primarily outdoors, bats can sometimes fly into buildings. This includes your home and even the room where you sleep. Every year indoor-only cats develop rabies because of bats in the home. It is important to keep all cats up to date on rabies vaccination, even if they never leave your home. Learn what to do when you find a bat in your home. There are also steps you can take to “bat-proof” your home.
Compliments of CDC.