Are your pets and family safe?

  • Published
  • By Staff Sergeant Rebecca Morey
  • 82nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron
Wichita County has seen an increase in rabid wild animals around Wichita Falls recently.

When most people think of rabies, they think of dogs foaming at the mouth and viciously wanting to bite. That is not the entire story. Rabies is also found in other animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes, and the animal may not show any signs at first.

This is why it is vital that you protect yourself, your family and your pets.

To help prevent Rabies you should:

· Take your pets to your veterinarian regularly. 

· Vaccinate your pets against rabies, even if they are indoor pets. 

· Maintain control of your pets and neuter or spay your animals to reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for and vaccinated. 

· Stay away from stray animals that aren't familiar with you and may not have been vaccinated. This includes bats. Remember, wild animals should never appear friendly. Something may be wrong with them if they appear too tame, or are out during daylight when they are usually nocturnal. 

· Be wary of any domestic animal not on a leash. Injured or frightened animals are more likely to bite since they are in pain; this applies even if you know them. 

· Call the local animal control agency to take care of stray animals.

If you are bitten or scratched by any animal:

· Thoroughly cleanse the wound. 

· Seek medical attention immediately. 

· Determine vaccination status of the animal.

Not all animals have to bite to transfer rabies to humans. Bats, for example, can transmit rabies without biting someone.

· In the last 20 years, several cases of rabies in humans have been caused by the bat rabies strain without known bite or scratch exposure to a bat. In several of these cases, witnesses recall that there was a bat in their house, or they captured a bat that was later determined to be rabid. Absent the scratch or bite, the presumed method of transmission is that rabid bat saliva contacted the human's mucous membranes including: the eyes, nose, and mouth. 

· If you find a bat in your home, contain it by shutting doors, windows and fireplace vents. Keep others, including pets, away from it. The odds are significant enough that the bat could be rabid - it is a wild animal that tends to dwell in a less restrictive shelter than a home. 

· Capturing a bat in the home has the huge advantage of testing for rabies. However, the capturer is at risk for exposure. Call a professional to capture. If the bat is dead, wear personal protective equipment and contain the bat, then take it to your veterinarian for testing. 

· Seek healthcare if mucous membrane exposure to a known or potentially rabid bat's saliva is possible for example: if the bat is found in the room of a sleeping child.

Animals that exhibit any unusual behavior such as aggression when usually timid, or vice versa - look dehydrated, or walk funny with a tilted head could be rabid. Stay away and report them to animal control. Without prompt treatment rabies is fatal.

The summer months are ahead and a lot of animals come out of hiding. Teach your children to stay away from unknown animals and have a safe enjoyable summer.

Wichita Falls Animal Control (940) 761-7824
Sheppard Vet Clinic (940) 676-6883
Sheppard Public Health (940) 676-8271

More information can be found at