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What you should know about Rabies

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a disease caused by the rabies virus.  It may take several weeks or even a few years for people to show symptoms after getting infected with rabies, but usually people start to show signs of the disease 1 to 3 months after the virus infects them.  The early signs of rabies can be fever or headache, but this changes quickly to nervous system signs, such as confusion, sleepiness, or agitation.  Once someone with rabies infection starts having these symptoms, that person usually does not survive.  This is why it is very important to talk to your doctor or health care provider right away if any animal bites you, especially a wild animal.


Can animals transmit rabies to me?

Yes, many kinds of animals can pass rabies to people.  Wild animals are much  more likely to carry rabies, especially raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes and coyotes.  However dogs, cats, cattle or any warm-blooded animal can pass rabies to people.  People usually get rabies from the bite of an infected animal. Many animals, such as dogs, cats and horses are vaccinated against rabies, but you should always wash any bite thoroughly and check with your health care provider about what to do if any animal bites you.


How can I protect myself from getting rabies?

Be a responsible pet owner:

-Keep vaccinations up to date for all dogs, cats and ferrets.  This requirement is important not only to keep your pets from getting rabies, but also to provide a barrier of protection for you, if your animal is bitten by a rabid wild animal. 

-Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals.  If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.

-Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.  "love your own, leave other animals alone" is a good principle for children to learn.  

If you have any concerns about animals on your property, please call the appropriate authorities...

Northumberland County Dog Warden (Mark Rusinko) 570-236-3452

PA Game Commission 877-877-9357 or 675-1143


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