Improved rabies vaccination programs for domestic animals (cats, dogs, ferrets, etc.) and better treatment for people who have been bitten have dramatically reduced the number of human rabies cases in this country. The majority of recent human cases acquired in the U.S. have resulted from exposure to bats. In Kentucky, rabies is found primarily in skunks and bats. To prevent the spread of rabies to humans, keep your pet’s vaccinations current and avoid contact with wild animals.
**NOTE: Dogs are still a significant source of rabies in other countries. Be aware of this risk when traveling outside of the United States and some regions nationally.
What you can do to help control rabies
- Have your veterinarian vaccinate your cats, dogs, ferrets and selected livestock.
- Keep vaccinations current. Check with your veterinarian on the recommended frequency for vaccination.
- Reduce the possibility of rabies exposure by keeping your animals on your property. Don’t let your pet roam free.
- Don’t leave garbage or pet food outside, because it may attract wild or stray animals.
- If your animal has been in a fight or suspected fight with cuts and bite marks contact your vet for information.
- Wild animals should not be kept as pets. They are a potential rabies threat to their owners and to others. Observe all wild animals from a distance, even if they do appear friendly. A rabid animal may act tame. Don’t go near it.
If you have been bitten
- Don’t panic, but don’t ignore the bite.
- Wash the wound thoroughly and vigorously with soap and lots of water.
- If possible, capture the animal under a large box or at least try to identify it before it runs away. Don’t try to pick the animal up. If the animal cannot be caught and it must be killed to prevent its escape, don’t damage the head. The brain will be needed to test for rabies.
- Depending on the severity of the bite, immediately contact your physician and then our department. The information needed is as follows: name, address, and phone number of animal owner, date of bite, victim’s name, victim’s address, victim’s phone number, and location of the bite on the body.
- All animal bites are required to be reported to the local health department within 12 hours, unless the health department is closed; if closed, the bite should be reported on the next working day.
The following animals are NOT CONSIDERED LIKELY TO CARRY RABIES:
Chipmunk, Gopher, Hamster, Mouse, Prairie Dog, Rat, Squirrel, Gerbil, Guinea Pig, Mole, Muskrat, Rabbit, Shrew, Vole, Note: woodchucks are tested.