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CDPH URGES CALIFORNIANS TO TAKE PRECAUTIONS TO AVOID EXPOSURE TO RABIES 

Date: 9/26/2008 

Number: 08-50 

Contact: Suanne Buggy or Ken August, (916) 440-7259 

SACRAMENTO 

September 28th is World Rabies Day

Dr. Bonnie Sorensen, chief deputy director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), today urged Californians to protect their family and pets from rabies by taking simple precautions such as avoiding contact with wild animals that may be infected with the deadly virus.

“Californians can greatly reduce their risk of becoming infected with rabies by taking simple precautions such as avoiding contact with wild animals and ensuring their pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations,” Sorensen said.

Bats and skunks are the most common animals found to be rabid in California.  Rabies is rare in dogs, cats, and other domestic animals in California due to vaccination programs and animal control efforts. 

To date this year in California, 125 rabid animals have been reported including 98 bats, 23 skunks, three fox and one cat. One case of rabies in a human was reported in March 2008 in Santa Barbara County.

“I urge all Californians to take steps to protect themselves and their pets from rabies especially during the fall season, which tends to be an active time of year for bats and other animals that may carry the virus,” Sorensen said.

The first symptoms of rabies, which may start one to three months or possibly longer following an exposure, may be nonspecific--malaise, fever, or headache--similar to the flu. There may be discomfort at the location of the bite, progressing within days to symptoms of brain dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, agitation, progressing to delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, and insomnia.  Once clinical signs of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal. However, there is a rabies vaccine regimen that provides immunity to rabies when administered after an exposure before symptoms occur, or for protection before an exposure.

The most effective ways for individuals to prevent exposure to rabies are:

• Do not feed, touch, or adopt wild animals, such as bats, skunks, raccoons, and foxes
• Bat-proof your home in the fall and winter
• Vaccinate your pets against rabies
• If you are bitten or if saliva from a suspected rabid animal comes in contact with your eyes, nose, mouth or a wound, wash the exposure site and seek medical attention immediately.

Additional information about rabies is available at http://cdphinternet/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/rabies.aspx

 
 
Last modified on: 6/8/2009 12:05 PM