Dallas Animal Services staffers have been making the rounds in the Lakewood and White Rock Lake area. They haven’t been doing a head count on the number of critters in households. No, they’ve been handing out fliers about the discovery of two dead bats on separate dates that tested positive for rabies.
According to the handout,
- Each year more than 55,000 people still die from rabies.**
- In Texas, bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, horses, dogs, cats, ferrets and other mammals still test positive for rabies and put humans that are in contact with them at risk.
- In the United States, bats are the main source of human rabies infection.
- The State of Texas and the City of Dallas require all dogs, cats and ferrets be current on their rabies vaccinations (either every 1-3 years depending on vaccine type) and wear a rabies tag on their collar at all times.
- Rabies infection can be presented after exposure with post-exposure shots; however, once symptoms begin, the disease is likely to be fatal.
That’s the downside of the flier. The upside is the information on how rabies can be prevented and/or dealt with.
- The best way to prevent infection is to stay away from wild animals and strange pets.
- Symptoms of rabies in animals include lethargy, vomiting, anorexia, aggressive behavior, behavioral chances (ex. not being afraid of humans, nocturnal animals active during the day) and foaming at the mouth.
- Bat bites are so small that they often cannot be seen and sometimes not even felt. Anyone who touches a bat should call 3-1-1 and seek medical attention.
- If you believe you have been exposed to rabies by being bitten or scratched by an animal or touching a bat, wash your skin and wounds with soap and water, call 3-1-1 and seek medical attention immediately.
- If you see a sick or dead animal that you suspect has rabies, call 3-1-1.
- Prevent exposure to wild animals by blocking holes and gaps in your home.
- Keep kids safe by teaching them not to touch wild animals or strange pets.
In the meantime, get your pets vaccinated… even if they’re strictly indoor animals. The exceptions are birds, snakes, and fish. They are not rabies carriers.
As for area horse lovers, they need to make sure that their steeds are current on their vaccinations.
*Graphic courtesy of Dallas Animal Services ** According to the Center for Disease Control, "The number of rabies-related human deaths in the United States has declined from more than 100 annually at the turn of the century to one or two per year in the 1990’s."