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Controlling, preventing rabies a community effort

Controlling, preventing rabies a community effort

Published: September 25, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 25, 2014) -- Sept. 28 of every year is observed as World Rabies Day, which was initiated in 2007 by Global Alliance for Rabies Control.  It was created in an effort to raise awareness about rabies and enhance prevention and control efforts.

Rabies is a disease that affects warm blooded animals; however, dogs are the major victims of the disease.  It can be transmitted from wild animals such as bats, foxes, skunks and raccoons.  Stray cats and dogs can also transmit the virus to pets and humans.

Rabies is a highly fatal infectious disease, but it is 100-percent preventable.  Eliminating the disease by vaccinating your pets protects them and stops transmission to people.  Keeping your pets’ vaccinations current is important not only to keep your pets from getting rabies, but also to provide a barrier of protection for the entire Family if your pets should be exposed to a rabid animal.  Spay or neuter your pets to assist in minimizing the quantity of unwanted pets that may not be vaccinated on a regular basis.  This will also decrease the chances of some pets wanting to escape from the home, roaming the neighborhood and encountering rabid animals.  Monitor your pets closely while outside so they do not come in contact with stray or wild animals.

Some of the signs an animal with rabies may display include fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling and staggering.  In addition, rabid wild animals that are usually seen only at night may display unusual behavior allowing themselves to be seen wandering in the daytime.  There are certain precautions to take in the event you are your pet is bitten or scratched by a stray or wild animal.  If you´re bitten by an animal, regardless if the animal is current on vaccinations, wash the wound with soap and water for at least five minutes, and seek immediate medical attention.  Seeking medical attention will also allow the incident to be reported to the proper public health officials.  If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.  Do not handle wild animals.  It is advised not to make assumptions that a stray or wild animal that may appear harmless is healthy.

However, rabies awareness should extend beyond one day of the year.  Preventing and controlling rabies is a community effort.  Residents can take the necessary steps to keep themselves, their Family, and their pets free from rabies.  Residents are discouraged from approaching or handling strays, as well as wild animals that may linger around their home.  Anyone encountering a stray or wild animal is advised to contact the on-post police or animal control (if available) to safely remove them from the neighborhood.  They may be unvaccinated and could be infected with the disease.

An animal is a huge responsibility financially, physically and emotionally.  They need specific nutritional and grooming need.  In addition, they require medical attention, adequate exercise and lots of love.  I advise all pet owners and future pet owners to be responsible in taking care of your animals and always practice safety when encountering stray or wild animals.

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