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Health Department

Posted on: September 13, 2023

Media Release General Health Information-September 13 2023

09/13/2023  




General Information 


Rabies Awareness: Protecting Lives and Preventing Tragedies 


Rowan County Public Health and Rowan County Animal Enforcement are committed to raising awareness about the deadly threat of rabies and the critical steps individuals should take to safeguard themselves and their communities. Rabies is a preventable viral disease that poses a severe risk when interacting with wild animals. This press release highlights the dangers of interacting with wild animals, the importance of post-exposure vaccinations, and what to do if you suspect that an animal is rabid. 

Dangers of Interacting with Wild Animals 

Rabies is primarily transmitted through the saliva of infected animals, most commonly through bites or scratches. While domesticated animals like dogs and cats can also carry rabies, it is often wild animals such as raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes that serve as reservoirs for the virus. Interacting with these animals, even if they appear healthy, can lead to transmission. 

It is crucial to emphasize that wild animals should never be approached, touched, or fed. This is not only for the safety of humans but also for the welfare of the animals themselves. Feeding or approaching wild animals can disrupt their natural behavior, cause stress, and potentially lead to aggression, increasing the risk of rabies transmission. 

Please follow the recommendations provided by the NC Department of Health and Human Services. 

  • Keep dogs, cats and ferrets and livestock currently vaccinated against rabies.  
  • Supervise pets while they are outside  
  • Do not approach, feed or handle wildlife 
  • If you see a wild animal or stray pet around your home that appears sick or unusual, or if you find a bat inside your home, call Animal Enforcement assistance 
  •  Do not attract wildlife to your yard and do not feed wildlife.  
  • Secure garbage.  
  • Keep your yard mowed, shrubs trimmed, and clear fallen trees and debris from your yard.  
  • Repair holes in siding and screens, and place caps on chimneys and screens on attic vents to prevent wildlife such as raccoons and bats from entering. 
  • If you are a person who works in veterinary clinics, zoos or places where you have contact with animals prone to carry rabies, you may be eligible to receive the pre-exposure prophylaxis (rabies vaccines).  


Post-Exposure Vaccinations Save Lives 

If you or someone you know is bitten or scratched by an animal, especially if it is a wild or unknown animal, immediate medical attention is paramount. Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms develop, but post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can prevent the virus from progressing if administered promptly. 

PEP includes a series of rabies vaccinations and, in some cases, a rabies immune globulin injection. These treatments are highly effective when administered soon after exposure. If you are in need of receiving PEP, visit your local emergency department as soon as possible. Delaying or avoiding PEP can have dire consequences, as once symptoms of rabies appear, it is almost always too late for treatment.  

Remember to call Animal Enforcement to capture the animal if possible. 


What to Do If You Suspect an Animal is Rabid 

If you encounter an animal that you suspect may be rabid, it is essential to prioritize safety while reporting the incident to Animal Enforcement or wildlife authorities. Here are some key steps to follow: 

  • Do not approach the animal: Keep a safe distance and do not attempt to handle it. 
  • Call local authorities: Contact Rowan County Animal Enforcement to report the animal's behavior and location. 
  • Warn others: Ensure that people in the vicinity are aware of the potential danger. 
  • Seek medical attention: If you have any contact with the animal, even if there are no visible wounds, consult a healthcare professional for evaluation and guidance regarding PEP. 

 

Rabies remains a serious public health concern, and prevention is our best defense. By avoiding contact with wild animals, seeking immediate medical attention after potential exposures, and reporting suspicious animal behavior, we can collectively work towards a safer and rabies-free community. 

For more information about rabies prevention, symptoms, and treatment, please visit https://epi.dph.ncdhhs.gov/cd/lhds/manuals/rabies/intro.html   

Rowan County Public Health is dedicated to promoting public health and safety by raising awareness about critical health issues, providing education, and collaborating with local agencies to protect our community. 



For additional information, please contact Courtney Meece at 704-216-8818. 

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Contact: 
Courtney Meece 
704-216-8818 
courtney.meece@rowancountync.gov 

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