Follow These Rabies Rules for Safety
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McGuill says rabies may rise and fall among animal populations -- in great
part, because animals die from it -- but at this point it remains a problem.
"There's no indication it's going away."
That said, DeMaria has some recommendations to avoid an exposure: First,
avoid any animal you don't know -- especially one which is behaving unusually.
That could mean an overly aggressive creature, but also one that is too docile.
A raccoon or fox shouldn't be seeking human contact -- they're normally
"Second, reduce the environment and habitat for potentially rabid
animals by reducing food and nesting sources," DeMaria says. "Third,
immunize your pets -- cats and dogs."
And if you are bitten, thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water -- this
is an important step, since the virus may be broken down by soap. And always
see a doctor.
- Since 1990, only 22 people have died from rabies, usually as the result of
an unnoticed bite from a bat.
- A person contracts rabies by coming into contact with the saliva or brain
tissue of a rabid animal, but can prevent the disease with a series of seven
shots over a month's time following exposure.
- If you are bitten by an animal, thoroughly wash the wound with soap and
water, then see a physician.