Well, in honor of World Rabies Day, a rabid skunk decided to make its appearance in the City of El Dorado, KS! The laboratory just called with confirmation that it was positive for rabies. Before you panic, I need to let you in on a few facts about rabies:
- Rabies is very short-lived outside of the body. This means that it does not survive on surfaces or in your yard.
- Most dogs and cats have good immunity to rabies within 1 month after their adult booster, and maintain that immunity for up to 3 years.
- Rabies is transmitted through a fluid transfer from a rabid animal to another animal. Just touching an animal is normally not enough to transfer rabies, unless there are cuts on your hands where you touched it.
That being said, here are some things you need to do to protect yourself:
- Check with your veterinarian to make sure all your animals are current on their rabies vaccinations. Be sure to let them know why you are checking. Sometimes, a booster earlier than 3 years is recommended if a known rabid animal is found in the area.
- Do not handle stray animals. Leave that to the professionals. Our city has a good animal control program and will do everything they can to corral stray animals without getting the animal or themselves injured.
- If you get bit or scratched, immediately wash the area thoroughly and report it to your physician. They will instruct you as to whether or not you need to pursue post-exposure immunizations.
- If you have stray animals that you feed, but do not vaccinate, you are putting both them and yourself at risk for exposure to rabies!
- Be wary of wildlife out in the daytime, or animals acting strangely. Report these instances to animal control or, if they are your own animal, take them to see your veterinarian.