World Rabies Day
September 28th is World Rabies Day. Click here to learn more about the special day!
What is rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease. The virus is found in the saliva of a rabid animal, and it can be transmitted by a bite or contaminated saliva coming into contact with an open cut. As the disease progresses, the virus attacks the nervous system and causes death.
Which animals can get rabies?
The rabies virus affects mammals. Most of the animals affected are wildlife, particularly raccoons, bats, skunks, groundhogs, and foxes. Other mammals can get rabies as well, including dogs, cats, and even people! In New Jersey, cats account for the vast majority of domestic animal rabies cases. Small rodents such as rats, mice, chipmunks & squirrels are rarely infected.
What happens to an animal with rabies?
Rabies can cause animals to become vicious and aggressive, making them even more likely to transmit the virus through a bite. It may also cause the animal to appear drunk and have difficulty walking as the virus damages the nervous system. Some animals may be rabid even though they appear to be normal.
If you are bitten by an animal:
- Clean the wound immediately with soap and water.
- Seek prompt medical attention from a physician or hospital emergency department
- Report the bite to the local health department
- Try to contain the animal while avoiding additional bites and exposure to saliva. If it is a wild animal, contact local animal control or police for assistance.
- If you are bitten by a domestic animal, obtain information about the owner including name, phone, address, description of animal its vaccination status.
- Biting animals will need to be observed for 10 days for signs of rabies
How can I protect my pets?
Vaccinations offer a powerful protection against the rabies virus. It is important to keep your dog or cat up to date on rabies vaccinations. Outdoor dogs and cats are at a higher risk of coming into contact with a rabid wild animal, but it is still crucial to vaccinate your indoor pets as well.
Avoid contact with wild animals – don’t touch or feed them. Report strange behavior in stray or wild animals to animal control.
What should I do if my pet has bitten someone?
- Be sure the victim is able to seek medical care immediately
- Check with your veterinarian to be sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date.
- Report the bite to your local health department.
- Report any unusual illness or strange behavior from your pet to the local health department and veterinarian
- Don’t allow your pet to roam and do not give your pet away – the animal must be available for observation.