Meigs Health Today: What you need to know about rabies
By Shauna Chapman, Clerical Specialist
The Rabies virus is one of the oldest diseases recorded in human history. Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that is most often transmitted through a bite or saliva of a rabid animal. Rabies can infect all warm-blooded mammals but is mostly found in bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes and coyotes. Once infected, the virus travels through the central nervous system eventually working its way to the brain. Unfortunately, once the disease is established, there is no effective treatment and when it reaches the brain, the disease is nearly always fatal.
According to the World Health Organization, over 55,000 people worldwide die from the Rabiesvirus every year. While wildlife is more likely to be rabid than domesticated pets, humans have much more contact with domesticated animals therefore prevention is the primary defense against the virus. The availability of vaccines to both animals and humans has led to a steep decline in rabies cases in the United States where there are, on average two to three rabies related human deaths per year.
Luckily for most people, the risk of contracting rabies is relatively low. However, there are some situations that can pose a higher risk for the virus. This includes living in an area that is highly populated by bats, traveling to foreign countries, living in a rural area with a greater exposure to wild animals and frequent camping near areas heavily populated by wild animals.
As mentioned before, even though the risk is relatively low it is important to take the proper steps if you are bitten or scratched by an animal. Immediately wash the exposed area with soap and running water for up to15 minutes. Flushing the virus particles from the wound will reduce your likelihood of infection. It is also crucial to seek medical attention promptly.
Vaccinating domestic animals will help prevent them from acquiring the disease from wildlifewhich, in turn, greatly reduces the risk to humans. It is important to avoid contact with wild animals and sealing open spaces to prevent bats from entering your living space or other structures near your home. Report any signs of an infected animal or animal bite to your local health department or animal control. Most states require a mandatory 10-day quarantine for the animal.
The Meigs County Health Department will be working with the Meigs Veterinary Clinic to holda Rabies vaccine clinic on Saturday, June 19, 2021 from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. at its offices located at 112 E. Memorial Drive Pomeroy, OH. Vaccines will be available for dogs and cats and will cost $5 each. No appointment is required. For any questions, please contact Steve or Dawn at (740) 992-6626.