Officials warn of rabies risk
Cabarrus Health Alliance
CONCORD ó Rabies continues to be a public health concern in North Carolina and the Southeastern United States.
Dr. William F. Pilkington, public health director for Cabarrus County, urges all pet owners to have their cats and dogs vaccinated against rabies.
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system of both animals and humans. The rabies virus affects the brain, causing death if not treated promptly and properly.
Typically, rabies occurs in carnivorous (meat-eating) animals, including raccoons, skunks, cats, and dogs. Rats, squirrels, or rabbits are not typically affected by the rabies virus.
The rabies virus is transmitted from an infected animalís saliva, usually through a bite or a lick to a break in the skin. Rabies cannot be transmitted by mosquitoes. By avoiding stray, domestic animals and wild animals acting in an unusual manner, humans decrease the risk of exposure to rabies.
It is difficult to give precise symptoms of a rabid animal. In some instances, a rabid animal will display abnormal behaviors, such as excessive salivating, weakness, fatigue, inability to get up, and anxious or nervous behavior.
One of the best known symptoms of the rabid animal is foaming at the mouth, but that is not necessarily a typical symptoms. If an animal is acting in an unusual manner and there is a possibility that it has been exposed to the rabies virus, then the animal needs to be seen by a veterinarian so that a professional diagnosis can be made.
In 1992, Cabarrus County adopted an Animal Control Ordinance to provide safety for both citizens and pet owners. Under the ordinance, all dogs must be physically restrained at all times.
In addition, all cats and dogs, 3 months of age and older, are required to be vaccinated for rabies.
The safest, easiest, and least expensive way to protect people and animals from rabies is to get pets vaccinated against rabies.
In cooperation with Cabarrus County Animal Control and local veterinarians, Rabies Vaccination Clinics will be offered at reduced prices May 23-28, 2011. In summary, citizens are reminded to protect their pets and themselves:
Make sure that pets have an up-to-date rabies vaccination
Donít feed, approach, or touch stray or wild animals
Donít leave pet food outside for extended periods of time
Donít let pets roam free
If you see an animal behaving strangely, or if you, or your animal have been bitten, call Animal Control at 704- 920-3000.
For more information about rabies and the rabies clinics, visit www.cabarrushealth.org