From the Harnett County Department of Public Health
Spring and summer mean more outdoor time and more chances for people to come in contact with wildlife. One of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from rabies is to vaccinate your pets and avoid contact with wild animals.
You can´t tell if an animal has rabies by just looking at it. Rabies is a serious disease. It is caused by a virus. Rabies is mainly a disease of animals. Humans get rabies when they are bitten by infected animals. Anyone can get it if they handle or get bitten by an animal that has the disease.
The main animals that get rabies include raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats. However, most people are exposed to rabies due to close contact with domestic animals, such as cats or dogs.
Officials with the Harnett County Health Department are urging parents to teach children a few safety tips about animals to protect themselves and their families. Teach children to never feed or walk up to a wild animal. Never touch unfamiliar or wild animals.
If a wild animal is acting strangely, stay away from it. Animals may act timid or shy when they have rabies. A wild animal might move slowly or act tame. Since thats not the way wild animals usually act, you should remember that something could be wrong. Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home or do not try to nurse sick wild animals back to health, it’s great that you want to rescue a sick animal, but call an animal control person or an animal rescue group so they can take care of everything safely.
Avoid direct contact with stray animals, not only wild animals, Public health officials cautions, be careful of pets (dogs and cats) that you do not know. If you see a stray dog or cat, do not go up and pet it. Stray cats and dogs may not have been vaccinated against rabies. And if any animal is acting strangely, call your local Animal Control officer for help. Make sure your trash cans are closed up tight and do not leave pet food out. You do not want to be attracting wild animals near your home.
Inform your child if they are bitten by an animal, make sure to tell an adult right away. If you are bitten by any animal (domestic or wild), immediately wash the wound well with soap and water and see a health care provider. Contact Animal Control if you are bitten by an animal, to assist in capturing the animal for observation or rabies testing.
For more information on rabies prevention, log onto the Harnett County Health Department’s website located at www.harnett. org/health or contact the Health Department’s Environmental Health Division at (910) 893-7547.
Vaccinate your dogs, cats and ferrets against rabies. Keep your pets under your supervision so they do not catch rabies from a wild animal. Do not handle wild animals and if you see one acting strangely, call an Animal Control officer. If you’re bitten by an animal, immediately wash the wound well with soap and water and see a health care provider. Call Animal Control to remove all stray animals from your neighborhood since these animals may be unvaccinated or ill. Do not feed or water your pets outside and keep your garbage securely covered. These items may attract wild or stray animals.