Monday, October 06, 2008
Texans urged to avoid rabies exposure
Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) health officials warn that September and October often have the highest number of laboratory-confirmed rabies cases.
Last year, 114 rabies cases were reported in September, 93 of those in bats. The only month with a higher total was March, with 116 cases out of 969 cases for the year. In 2006, roughly 120 rabies cases were reported in September and another 109 cases in October, most in bats.
While these numbers can be eye-opening, DSHS health officials say there are things that you can do to keep from being exposed to the rabies virus.
“The most important thing that people can do is to have their animals vaccinated against rabies and keep those vaccinations up to date,” said Dr. Tom Sidwa, DSHS veterinarian who heads the department’s Zoonosis Control Branch. “State law requires that you have your dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies by a veterinarian.”
DSHS also offers this advice:
• Keep cats and ferrets indoors and keep dogs indoors or in a fenced yard.
• Spay or neuter pets to prevent unwanted animals that may not receive proper care.
• Teach children not to play with any animal that they do not know, even if the animal seems friendly.
• Avoid animals, both domestic and wild, that appear disoriented, fearless or aggressive. Nighttime animals such as bats, raccoons and skunks that are active in the daytime may be sick.
• Do not touch any wild animal that appears ill or dead. Call your local animal control or local health department for help.
• Don’t attract wild animals to your yard. Avoid leaving pet food outdoors, and keep garbage in closed containers.
• Stay away from wild animals, and never keep a wild animal as a pet.
Additional Contact Information
DSHS assistant press officer
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