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  Rabies Awareness
   
What is Rabies?

raccoonRabies is a viral disease that is passed through bites or exposure to saliva or nervous tissue. Once exposure has occurred, the disease spreads from the bite area through the nerves to the brain. Once this occurs, the disease is fatal. Vaccination of animals and prevention is the best defense against rabies.

In Pennsylvania in 2010, raccoons topped the list of the most rabies cases, but surprising to many people was that cats tied skunks for spot number two. Don't assume that only wild animals will carry the disease or that the cute cat or dog you see on the sidewalk might not be infected.

Signs we typically associate with rabies like foaming at the mouth or excessive drooling don't show themselves until late in the disease - or sometimes not at all - so you can't rely on visual cues alone.

Click here to view the 2011 rabies map for Pennsylvania to see which counties had what type of cases.

Here are some other tips which may come in handy:
  • Don't let pets roam freely outside. Their chance of contact with wild animals is increased, and the chance of exposure goes up. Additionally, if your pet is bitten and returns to the house, each family member is at risk for exposure, and you may not even be able to tell that your pet was bitten.
  • Don't feed your pets outside. Also don't leave food sitting out or dishes with food residue outside. kitten
  • Do not approach, feed or handle animals with which you are unfamiliar. You have no way of knowing if the animal is vaccinated or already infected.
  • Be sure to put all garbage bags in trash cans with tight-fitting lids. Leaving garbage bags exposed increases the chance that wild animals like skunks and raccoons will follow their nose to your leftovers.
  • If you see wild animals who are acting strangely, notify local authorities immediately.
Download PVMA's Rabies Fact Sheet.