What You Should Know And What You Should Do
Facts About Rabies
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous
system. It kills almost any mammal or human that gets sick from it.
The rabies virus lives in the saliva and brain of rabid animls. It can
be transmitted through a bit or by getting saliva or brain tissue in a
wound or in the eye or mouth.
Only mammals get rabies; birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians do not.
Skunks, bats, foxes, raccoons, dogs, cats, and some farm animals are most
likely to get rabies. Rabbits, squirrels, rats and mice, and pets like
gerbils and hamster seldom get it.
Rabies can be prevented in cats, dogs, ferrets, and some livestock with
a rabies vaccination. For most wild and exotic animals, there are no vaccines
available that have been shown to protect them.
Rabies And Humans
Because of improved rabies vaccination programs for pets and better treatment
for people who are bitten, rabies cases among humans in this country are
rare. The best way to prevent the spread of rabies to humans is by keeping
pets properly vaccinated.
You Can Do To Help Control Rabies
Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected
livestock. Keep the vaccinations up-to-date.
If your pet is attacked or bitten by another animal, report it to the
local health or animal control authorities. Be sure your vaccinated dog,
cat, or ferret receives a booster vaccination.
Limit the possibility of exposure by keeping your animals on your property.
Don't let pets roam free. Also, don't leave garbage or pet food outside.
It may attract wild or stray animals.
Remember...wild animals should not be kept as pets They are a potential
rabies threat to their owners and to others. Enjoy all wild animals from
a distance, even if they seem friendly. A rabid animal sometimes acts
tame. If you see an animal acting strangely, report it to the city or
county animal control department. Don't go near it yourself.
If You Have Been Bitten
Don't Panic...but don't ignore the bite, either. Wash the wound thoroughly
with soap and lots of water. Washing thoroughly will greatly lessen the
chance of infection. Give first aid as you would for any wound
If possible, capture the animal under a large box or can, or at least
identify it before it runs away. Don't try to pick the animal up. Call
an animal control or law enforcement office to come get it. The Hanover
County Animal Control emergency phone number is 804-365-6140 (or 911).
If it's a wild animal that must be killed, don't damage the head. The
brain will be needed to test for rabies. Don't let anyone destroy wild
animals at random just because there may be a rabies outbreak in your
area. Only a few wild animals will be carrying rabies.
Call your doctor immediately. Explain how your got the bite and follow
the doctor's advice.
Report the bite to the Hanover Health Department 804-752-4313, 800-464-5506.
If Your Pet Has Bitten Someone
Tell the person bitten to see a doctor immediately and to follow the
advice given on this page. Report the bite to your local health department.
If your pet is a dog, cat, or ferret they will probably have you confine
the animal and watch it closely for 10 days. Report any illness or unusual
behavior to your local health department and veterinarian immediately.
Hanover Health Department 804-752-4313, 800-464-5506.
Don't let the animal stray, and don't give the animal away. It must be
available for observation by health authorities.
Don't kill your pet or allow it to be killed unless you have been instructed
to do so by the public health authorities or a veterinarian.
Check with your veterinarian to find out if your pet has a current vaccination.
After the recommended observation period, have your pet vaccinated for
rabies if it does not have a current rabies vaccination.