Rabies rears its ugly head

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2006

during summer

With the summer months, come more and more cases of rabies in wild animals. Here are some tips to follow if you are exposed to rabies:

n If someone is bitten or scratched, start washing the affected area immediately with soap and running water.

Keep washing the area for at least 15 minutes to try and wash out as much of the animal's saliva as possible.


See your doctor or visit your local emergency room.

If the biting animal has rabies, you will need to receive a series of 5 shots of rabies vaccine (in the arm) plus rabies immune globulin (in the buttocks) to prevent infection.

The days of rabies shots in the stomach are long gone.

Other infections such as tetanus can also result from a bite and will need to be prevented as well.


Do not try and assess your own risk of exposure.

Inform the experts, such as your doctor and local health departments, of all the details of the situation and let them make the crucial decisions of how your case should be handled.


If the animal is an owned dog or cat, it will be quarantined and observed for 10 days by a licensed veterinarian for clinical signs of rabies.

Should symptoms of rabies develop, it will be humanely sacrificed and immediately tested for rabies.


If the animal is a stray or wild animal that cannot be confined, you should alert your local animal control officer so that he can capture the animal and confine it.

Be sure that you identify the animal and describe its location so that animal control authorities can retrieve it.

Do not attempt to catch the animal yourself.


In severe, unprovoked attacks of the head and neck, the physician may start treatment while waiting for results of the test or quarantine.


If the animal is a stray or wild animal and it cannot be captured, it should be destroyed immediately without damaging the head.

The brain will have to be tested for rabies infection in a laboratory and will need to be in good condition when it is examined.


Always wear gloves when handling a suspected rabid animal.

Consult your veterinarian and local health department for help in handling the animal and shipping it to a qualified laboratory for examination.