Rabies: Wild animal that carry virus common to local area

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Venita Ramirez
  • Public Health
Most animals that carry rabies are wild animals that are common to the Wichita Falls area such as bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes.

Rabies is a potentially fatal virus that is normally spread by the bite of an infected animal. This year, more than 20 skunks in Wichita Falls have tested positive for rabies.

Seek medical care right away if bitten by an animal that could have rabies. In people, it can take up to three months to show signs of rabies. By the time symptoms begin to show, the disease is almost always fatal.

Early symptoms in humans include fever, headache, sore throat and fatigue. Advanced symptoms include pain and tingling at the place where bitten, seeing things that aren't really there, being unable to move parts of the body and a fear of water because of sudden, strong tightening of the muscles in the throat.

The following tips can help reduce your exposure to rabies: 

· Vaccinate pets and livestock on a regular basis. Appointments are available with the base veterinary clinic Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Contact the clinic at 676-6883.
· Avoid contact with stray and unfamiliar animals.
· Avoid and report dogs and cats that appear unusually hostile, confused, or timid.
· Do not handle wild animals.
· Minimize situations that attract wild and stray animals, such as leaving the lids of your outside trash cans open and leaving pet food out. 

During daylight hours, be particularly careful of wild animals that are not normally out during the day. Altered behavior may be one of the first signs of Rabies.

If you see a stray animal on base or in base housing, contact Robin Graham from the entomology department of Defense Support Services at 632-5532 or Public Health at 676-8271.

For additional information including prevention tips, contact the Public Health department at 676-8271, or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/rabies/.