Rabies Awareness Tips
The Cochise Health & Social Services, Emergecy Preparedness Program, has prepared some general information on Rabies for Cochise County residents, from various public health resources. We, like many other counties in Arizona and the United States, have animal populations that are known to carry this illness. We, at CHSS, encourage all residents to learn more about Rabies, prevention, and what to do if exposed. Questions and inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 520-432-9400 for more information.
General rabies information
- Rabies is caused by a virus that animals and people can get through certain exposures to the saliva or nervous tissue from a rabid animal and is nearly always fatal without proper postexposure prophylaxis [treatment] (PEP).
- Rabies is zoonotic, which means it can spread from animals to people.
- Rabies is 100% preventable. In most cases, preventing rabies is as simple as ensuring adequate animal vaccination and control, avoiding contact with wild animals, and educating those at risk.
Rabies prevention starts with the animal owner
- All dogs, cats and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies. Consider vaccinating valuable livestock and horses. Animals that have frequent contact with humans should be vaccinated.
- Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by not letting them roam free.
- Spaying or neutering your pet may reduce any tendency they might have to roam or fight and thus reduce the chance that they will be exposed to rabies.
- If your pet is bitten by another animal consult your veterinarian immediately and have your veterinarian examine your pet and assess your pet’s vaccination needs.
- If you are bitten by a wild animal contact your physician immediately.
Reduce the risk of exposure to rabies from wildlife
- Don’t feed or water your pets outside. Even empty bowls will attract wild and stray animals.
- Keep your garbage securely covered. Open garbage will attract wild or stray animals.
- Wild animals should not be kept as pets.
- Enjoy all wild animals from a distance and teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals – even if they appear friendly.
- If you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to city or county animal control officials.
- Bat-proof your home in the fall and winter.
- Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) should begin as soon as possible after an exposure. Administration of rabies PEP is a medical urgency, not a medical emergency. There have been no vaccine failures in the United States (i.e., someone developed rabies) when PEP was given promptly and appropriately after an exposure.
Bats and Rabies
- Bats have small teeth which may leave marks that are not easily seen.
- Although many people know if they have been bitten by a bat, there are certain circumstances when a person might not be aware or unable to tell you that they have been bitten. These circumstances include:
- If a sleeping person awakes to find a bat in the room
- If you find a bat in a room with an unattended child
- If you see a bat near a person with disabilities
- If you see a bat near a person who is intoxicated
- In these circumstances, safely capture the bat for rabies testing. If the bat tests positive for rabies, or is unavailable for testing, the person should seek medical advice regarding the need for post exposure prophylaxis.
- Contact your local or state health department for assistance with animal testing and medical advice.
Useful Rabies Websites:
- World Health Organization
- NASPHV Rabies Compendium
- World Rabies Day
- Arizona Department of Health Services
- World Rabies Day Media Inquiries: 570-899-4885
- CDC Media Inquiries: 404-639-3286
- Arizona Department of Health Services: 602-542-1025
- Cochise Health & Social Services: 520-432-9414
- CHSS 6/25/12 Press Release - Cochise County Exposure Incident