Rabies and Animal Bites
Rabies, Animal and Human
Rabies is a serious viral infection that affects the central nervous system. The virus is usually passed to humans through the bite of a rabid animal. Occasionally rabies can be transmitted if the saliva of an infected animal gets into a fresh scratch, break in the skin, or contact with mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose).
In West Virginia, most cases of rabies occur in wild animals, such as raccoons and skunks. If you are bitten or scratched by a rabid or possibly rabid animal, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water and immediately consult a physician and your local health department. If the animal is not available for observation or rabies testing, a series of post-exposure rabies vaccinations may be warranted to prevent possible rabies infection.
Rabies can be prevented by:
- Being a responsible pet owner.
- Keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats and dogs.
- Take your pet to your veterinarian on a regular basis.
- Maintain control of your pets by keeping them under direct supervision.
- Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or vaccinated regularly.
- Call animal control to remove all stray animals from your neighborhood since these animals may be unvaccinated or ill.
- Avoiding contact with unfamiliar animals.
- Enjoy wild animals from a distance. Do not handle or feed wild animals.
- Place litter in closed garbage cans.
- Never adopt or bring wild animals into your home.
- Teach children not to handle any unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
- Prevent bats from entering homes or other areas where they might come in contact with people or pets.
- When travelling abroad, take extra care to avoid animals. In certain areas of the world, rabies in dogs is still a major problem and preventative rabies treatment may be hard to get.