Guide: Take steps to prevent rabies infection with these tips
Authorities are urging tri-state residents to take precautions to prevent rabies infections in people and pets.
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system. It can be transmitted from infected mammals to humans and other mammals.
While rabies is rare in humans, precautions should still be taken by avoiding contact with wild animals and ensuring that pets are vaccinated.
Rabies is most commonly seen in wild animals, such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, deer, groundhogs, coyotes and bats, according to the New York state Department of Health.
Any mammal can be infected, including household pets like dogs and cats and other domestic animals such as horses and livestock.
HOW IT IS TRANSMITTED
The virus is transmitted by infected animals through their saliva and can infect people and animals through a bite or if the saliva gets into the eyes, nose, mouth or a break in the skin.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE EXPOSED
People who are exposed to rabies should wash the bite or exposure area thoroughly with soap and water and immediately seek medical attention. Treatment for rabies should be administered as soon as possible after exposure. Treatment includes a dose of human rabies immune globulin and four doses of rabies vaccine administered over a two-week period.
Exposure to a rabid animal does not always result in rabies. Rabies can be prevented if treatment is initiated promptly following an exposure. If a rabies exposure is not treated and a person develops clinical signs of rabies, the disease almost always results in death.
PRECAUTIONS TO AVOID THE RISK OF RABIES INFECTIONS
Don't feed, touch or adopt wild animals, stray dogs or feral cats.
Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to the local county health department. If possible, do not let any animal escape that has possibly exposed someone to rabies.
Be sure pet dogs, cats and ferrets, as well as horses and other livestock animals are up to date on their rabies vaccinations. Vaccination protects pets if they are exposed to rabid animals.
Pets too young to be vaccinated should only be allowed outside under direct observation.
Keep family pets indoors at night. Don't leave them outside unattended or let them roam free.
Teach children not to touch any animal they do not know and to tell an adult immediately if they are bitten by any animal.
Keep property free of stored bird seed or other foods to avoid attracting wild animals. Also, feed pets indoors and cap garbage cans.
Cover any openings to the attic, basement, porch or garage and cap chimneys with screens.
Bring children and pets indoors and alert neighbors who are outside if wild animals enter the property.
If you find animals living in or around parts of your home, consult a nuisance wildlife control expert about removing them.
The local health department should be contacted if a bat is found inside the house. They will advise on what to do with the bat.
Pet owners should contact the local health department or a veterinarian if their pet has been in a fight with another animal. A rabies booster vaccination may be needed.