In response to the case of rabies that was reported to the Livingston County Department of Public Health, we would like to educate all animal owners about the disease.

Rabies is an often fatal disease caused by the rabies virus. It is usually transferred from the saliva of an affected animal, most likely as the result of a bite wound. Many animals can pass rabies to people. Wild animals are the most likely hosts of the disease. Commonly effected species include: raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes and coyotes. However it is possible for dogs, cats, cows, horses or any other warm blooded animal to become infected and pass rabies to people.

Once infected, most people start to shows signs within 1 to 3 months. However, it is possible to be infected and not show signs for several weeks to a few years. Early symptoms include fever or headache but quickly progress to confusion, sleepiness or agitation. Once someone becomes symptomatic, chances of survival are rare. If you are bitten or think you have been exposed to rabies, immediately wash out the wound and seek medical attention

Signs of rabies exposure in animals include, but are not limited to, changes in attitude, erratic behavior, lethargy, fever, excessive salivation, inability to swallow, jaw paralysis, disorientation, stumbling and ataxia.

Rabies is a fatal disease, but also a very preventable disease. The dog that tested positive was an unvaccinated animal that was exposed to a rabid skunk. Below are some recommendations to minimize the chance of exposure to Rabies.

Be a responsible pet owner:

  • Keep vaccinations up to date on all dogs, cats, ferrets and horses.
  • Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come into contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten call your veterinarian, they may want to booster your pet’s Rabies vaccine.
  • Call your local animal control to remove any stray animal, domestic or wild from your neighborhood. They may be unvaccinated or infected by the disease.
  • Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the population of feral pets that may not receive the appropriate care or vaccinations.

Avoid direct contact with unfamiliar animals:

  • Enjoy wild animals from a distance. Do not handle, feed, or attract a wild animal with open garbage cans or litter.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health, call wildlife services.
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes or other places they may come into contact with people and pets.
  • When traveling abroad, avoid direct contact with wild animals and be especially careful around dogs in developing countries. Rabies is common in Latin America, Asia, and Africa where dogs are the major reservoir of Rabies. Tens of thousands of people die of rabies each year in these countries. Before traveling abroad consult with your health care provider about the risk of exposure to rabies.

For more information about rabies and its prevention can be found at the Centers for Disease Control website