Health Bulletin: Rabies

Several residents in the West Bradley community have followed up with advice on rabies prevention after the incident reported, February 4 (potentially rabid raccoon biting school child). Because of the concern that report occasioned, we are sharing some information provided by knowledgeable neighbors as well as recommendations from the Montgomery County Animal Services Division.

One neighbor has stated that there are problems not only with potentially rabid raccoons but also with bat-specific rabies. The advice: If you have a bat in your house, do not attempt to remove it yourself; call animal control. If you think the bat has been in your bedroom while you were sleeping, check for bites. Many people do not realize they have been bitten and can, reportedly, suffer serious illness. Others in our community have reported concern about foxes that have demonstrated unusually aggressive day-time behavior. There is also growing concern due to reports about rabies found in cats in Montgomery County since this shows rabies migrating from the wild animal population to domestic animals.

Montgomery County Animal Services Division: Suggested Steps to Prevent Rabies
• Only approach domestic animals that are known to you.
• Avoid all contact with wild animals.
• Make sure that your dogs and cats have a current rabies vaccination and County license.
• Keep dogs under control or on a leash. Keep cats safely indoors.
• Do not treat raccoons or other wild animals as if they were pets. Do not leave food out for raccoons, including leftover dog food, table scraps and large bird seeds.
• Close off all entrances to chimneys, attics, garages or sheds which can provide a nesting site for raccoons. Install heavy 26-gauge wire screen on chimney openings and flues.
• Use metal garbage cans that have secure lids. Plastic cans should have snap covers, but are not as secure. Ammonia can be sprayed or poured into plastic garbage bags to discourage raccoons from feeding.
• Most human exposures to rabies occur when people attempt to rescue sick or hurt wild animals that, upon testing, are rabid.
• Another frequent indirect exposure occurs when people handle their pets without gloves after the pet has had an encounter with a wild animal. Rabies virus in saliva on the pet’s fur can be transmitted through a break in the person’s skin for up to two hours after the saliva has been deposited on the fur.
• If you see a wild animal exhibiting abnormal behavior, call the Division at 240-773-5960 or 240-773-5925. After hours, call 240-773-5900.
• Avoid all wild and stray animals, especially RACCOONS!

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