Rabies and Animal Bites
What is rabies?
Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Rabies causes severe inflammation in the brain and spinal cord and is nearly always fatal. All mammals are susceptible to rabies, including humans. CDC Rabies Information
How is rabies transmitted?
Rabies virus is transmitted in saliva through the bite of an infected animal. Virus transmission can also occur if the saliva of an infected animal touches a cut, scratch, or other open wound.
What animals carry rabies?
- In the United States, many different wild animal species can carry rabies. Skunks and bats are the most significant sources of rabies in Kentucky, but other wild animals can also be infected.
- Domestic animals, such as dogs, cats, horses, and livestock, can become infected with rabies through contact with wild animals.
- Small rodents and rabbits do not usually carry rabies.
What are the symptoms of rabies in animals?
- The first symptoms of rabies in animals are lethargy and loss of appetite.
- Infected animals usually behave abnormally. Examples of abnormal behavior include a change in temperament, aggression, restlessness, irritability, or reacting to imaginary objects.
- Infected animals might also show symptoms of inflammation in the brain. Examples include confusion, stupor, lack of coordination, excessive salivation, circling, staggering, tremors, paralysis or seizures.
What should I do if I am bitten by an animal?
- First aid for an animal bite should include thorough cleansing of the wound with soap and water.
- All animal bites should be evaluated by a physician immediately. Antibiotics and a tetanus booster might be needed.
- Effective treatment is available to prevent rabies after a possible exposure.
What can I do to prevent rabies?
- Do not feed, touch, or handle wild animals.
- Have dogs, cats, horses, and livestock vaccinated regularly by your veterinarian.
- Maintain control of your pets by supervising them outdoors.
- Spay or neuter your pets to reduce the number of unwanted or stray animals in your community.
- Call your local animal control office to remove stray animals from your neighborhood.
KRS 258.015 states every owner shall have his dog, cat, or ferret initially vaccinated against rabies by the age of four (4) months and revaccinated at the expiration of the immunization period as certified by the veterinarian. KRS 258.043 authorizes a local health department to sponsor a mass rabies immunization clinic and to establish a reasonable fee to be charged to the owner of each dog, cat, or ferret vaccinated to help defray the cost of the clinic.
The Health Department partners with Jessamine County Animal Care and Control to host affordable rabies clinics annually to vaccinate pets (cats, dogs, and ferrets). The clinics are held in June and cost $5.00 per rabies vaccine.
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