Public health officials, veterinarians explain why people should be concerned with rabies

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 6
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 3:41 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - With the weather warming up, more wildlife will be out and about. Before you or even your pets are outdoors, there is a risk public health officials and veterinarians want you to be aware of.

Dr. Danika Harvey at the Appalachian Animal Hospital said rabies is still a disease people should be concerned with.

In order to avoid putting yourself or your pets at risk for rabies, you should keep your distance from wild animals and keep your pets up to date on their rabies vaccinations.

“Vaccination, obviously, is our biggest way of combating that and you know, your dogs and cats are animals that are susceptible to that,” said Dr. Harvey. “All it takes is a bite, in contact with saliva, from an animal that has it in order to contract it.”

Nocturnal wildlife like bats, raccoons or possums are some of the more common transmitters of rabies.

“If you see nocturnal animals out in the middle of the day, that could be be a sign that they may have rabies, especially amongst wildlife,” said Dr. William Hagans at Town & Country Animal Clinic.

If you are bitten by an animal and you are unsure as to whether that animal is infected or not, you should always seek medical attention.

“If a person is bitten and they suspect rabies, it is important that they get to a health care provider,” said Scott Lockard, Public Health Director for the Kentucky River District Health Department. “It is not an emergency, but it is urgent. Urgency is very, very important.”

Dr. Harvey added rabies can be a fatal disease and when there are signs and symptoms of it in your pets, that means it is too late to treat.

Dr. Harvey said not only is it important to ensure your pets are vaccinated against rabies, but it is also crucial that you are careful about where you buy those vaccinations. You should steer clear of over-the-counter rabies vaccines because they are often not as affective as getting one from a vet’s office.

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