What is rabies?
Rabies is a disease that almost always causes the person or animal that has it to die.
An animal that has the rabies virus (disease) can pass it to another animal or person by
biting them. That is because rabid animals have the disease in their saliva or drool.
The disease is passed on if the saliva from a rabid animal gets into an open wound or the body's soft, damp areas (eyes, nose or mouth). If rabies enters the body, it attacks the brain and spinal cord. Once signs of the disease appear, the infected person or animal will usually die within days. Rabies can make ANY warm blooded animal sick.
What about bats?
Bats can also have rabies. Even touching a bat can be dangerous if it has rabies. Bat bites
are very hard to see because they can be very small. If a bat is found in a room with a sleeping person, a child or anybody who cannot say for sure that the bat did not touch them, you should assume that the person was bitten. This means that a doctor or the health department should be contacted immediately. If it is possible, catch the bat without touching it so that it can be tested for rabies.
How do I tell if an animal has rabies?
You CAN'T. Animals that have rabies can act normal, even friendly. Sometimes, animals that have rabies will begin to act differently. They might act unusually nervous or mean. Other signs may include, foaming at the mouth, biting at real or imaginary objects and staggering. Some animals cannot move at all. The only way to know for sure is to have the dead animal's brain tested at a qualified laboratory such as the State Laboratory of Public Health.
What if my pet is exposed?
If your pet has had contact with a wild animal, or if you think it has recently been in a fight,
use gloves or a towel to protect yourself if you handle your pet. It is possible for the saliva
of the other animal to still be on your pet's fur. Call your local animal control office and
your veterinarian to help you decide what else should be done.
What if someone in my family is exposed?
If you have been bitten or have come in contact with saliva, the wound or exposed area should be vigorously scrubbed with soap and water for at least 10 minutes, using a brush if possible. Contact your doctor or health department for advice and further treatment if it is necessary. Call your local animal control office to capture the animal for rabies testing. If it is
possible to do so safely, stop the animal from leaving until animal control arrives. There is
no cure for rabies once SYMPTOMS develop, so it is very important to receive medical care as quickly as possible. If a person exposed to rabies is treated quickly and correctly, they
should not get sick.
- Vaccinate your pets regularly, according to North Carolina State Law.
- Keep children and pets away from wild animals and animals you do not know.
- Don't let pets run free.
- Make sure garbage can lids are shut tight and pet food is not left outside.
- Report wild or stray animals to animal control.
- If you think you may have come in contact with rabies, remember to curb the wound or exposed area thoroughly and contact your doctor or health department.
- If you have had contact with a bat, consult your doctor or health department.