All dogs 6 months or older must be vaccinated against rabies. The vaccinations must be kept current and the rabies tag must be worn on the dog’s collar or harness. In Lincoln County, bats are the most common carrier of rabies, however that doesn't mean your dog or even you aren't vulnerable. Human rabies cases are rare because most people who are exposed to the virus receive immediate treatment and never develop symptoms.
Here are some ways to protect yourself and your pet against rabies:
- Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals.
- Be cautious of stray dogs and cats. Rabid animals do not always appear ill or vicious!
- Teach children to leave wildlife alone. Be sure your children know to tell you if an animal bites or scratches them.
- Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats or ferrets against rabies. Keep pet vaccinations up-to-date
- Tightly close garbage cans. Open trash attracts wild and stray animals to our home and yard.
- Feed your pets indoors. Never leave pet food outside as this attracts wildlife.
- Call your doctor and Animal Control for advice if an animal bites or claws you.
Report the incident immediately!
Bats and Rabies
Although rabies among humans is extremely rare, with only approximately two cases per year in the U.S., bats are the most common source of rabies in humans. Rabies can be a fatal disease, but when people get the rabies vaccination after being bitten by an animal that may have the disease, they are often able to protect themselves.
Most people do not know when they have been bitten by a bat, as the teeth marks are barely visible. Others have woken up when a bat has landed on them and may be unsure if they were bitten. Either way, if bitten, if in doubt, or if you come in contact with a bat’s brain material or saliva:
- Wash the affected area with soap and water
- Seek medical attention immediately
- If possible, bring the bat into a laboratory for testing
You cannot contract rabies from watching a bat from afar, or through a bat’s fur, urine, feces, or blood.
If your pet was bitten by a bat, contact your veterinarian immediately, and always make sure to keep animal vaccinations up to date.
For more information about bats & rabies visit the CDC Website on Rabies Here.