Mason County News
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Rabies Threat on the Rise
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 • Posted June 22, 2011

Summer is here and with many outdoor activities taking place, now is the time for Mason County citizens to be vigilant and aware of the danger of rabies. The Center for Disease Control report lists Texas as the number one state in 2008 with the most reported cases of rabies, 1022, this number is thought to be a fraction of the real numbers out there.During this time of drought, the incidence of rabies risks in our area are greatly increased. Wild animals are coming in contact with domestic animals (ranch stock and household pets) as the wild animals search for water in populated areas. So far, this year, Mason County has had only one verified rabies incident. The Texas Department of State Health Services conducts an oral rabies vaccination program by dropping birds in south and west central Texas, usually during January and February of each year. This is only a partial containment of the disease. Pets should always be vaccinated by local veterinarians. The City of Mason (325-347-6449) has an animal control officer available at all times concerning suspicious animals.

Rabies Facts

You can be infected with the rabies virus if you are bitten by an animal that has the disease. You can also get rabies if the saliva from a rabid animal gets in your eyes, nose or mouth. This can happen if you get saliva on your fingers and then touch your face. Another way you can get rabies is by having the saliva of a rabid animal contact open cuts on your skin. If you have such contact with a rabid animal, only a series of injections (shots) can keep you from getting the disease. For this treatment to work well, it must be given soon after contact with the rabid animal.

If You Are Bitten

If an animal bites you, follow these steps. They may save your life.

• Quickly and thoroughly wash the bite with soap and water. Rinse it well. Put an antiseptic on it to kill germs

• See a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will decide if you need treatment to prevent rabies.

• Describe the animal that bit you - the kind, size and color - to the doctor, local rabies control authority, or animal control officer. Tell children to get help from a teacher, nurse, parent, policeman, school guard, or other adult. Try to locate the animal or keep track of it if you know where it lives. Remember what it looked like and where it can be found.

• The local rabies control authority needs to have any biting dog, cat or domestic ferret tested for rabies or observed for 10 days. If the quarantined dog, cat, or domestic ferret is alive 10 days after the bite, it could not have given you rabies. If the animal shows signs of rabies or dies during the observation period, it must be tested for rabies.Biting skunks, bats, foxes, coyotes and raccoons must be tested for rabies. If you are bitten by another kind of animal, the local rabies control authority will decide if it needs to be tested or observed for rabies.How To Prevent Rabies

• By law, you must have a veterinarian vaccinate your dogs and cats against rabies. Ask a veterinarian about the best vaccination schedule for your pet. Keeping your pets vaccinated protects you and them.

• Restrain your pets; do not allow them to roam.

• Avoid contact with wild animals and with dogs and cats you do not know. Do not approach strange dogs or cats. Do not try to hand-feed wild animals and do not keep them as pets.

• Do not touch sick or injured animals. Call and report them to an animal control officer.It is very important that everyone, especially children, know how to prevent rabies.Important Facts About Rabid AnimalsIf a pet is infected with the rabies virus, the way it acts may change. A friendly dog might want to be alone. A shy dog might want attention. Rabid dogs often become mean, roam, make strange noises and attack people and other animals. Rabid animals may drool, and they sometimes swallow stones, sticks or other things.Later, as the rabid animal gets even sicker, it might have trouble chewing, swallowing, drinking or walking. It may not be able to close its mouth, and may appear to be choking. Never try to clear the throat of an animal with these signs. If you see an animal acting this way, call the local animal control agency right away.

Signs of Rabies Include

• Animals that have a change in behavior.

• Wild animals which seem to be friendly or tame.

• Wild animals - coyotes, foxes, bats, skunks, and raccoons - which you do not usually see in the daytime.

• Animals that have a hard time walking, eating or drinking.

• Excitement or meanness in animals.

• Animals that bite or scratch at an old would until it bleeds.

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