Medical Advice

Medical Advice

World Rabies Day

September 28 is World Rabies Day, a day dedicated to raise awareness about rabies and enhance prevention and control efforts worldwide. Rabies is a potentially life-threatening disease that affects the central nervous system. By using prevention strategies and providing treatment early, death due to rabies is preventable!

Who is at risk for rabies?

Rabies is primarily transmitted through bites from rabid animals. You are at risk of contracting the rabies virus after encountering wild or unfamiliar animals, especially if you have been bitten or scratched by the animal. 

What should I do after an animal bite or scratch?

After an encounter with a wild or unfamiliar animal, you should immediately wash your wound with soap and water, then make plans to see your health care provider to evaluate your risk for rabies and whether you should begin rabies treatment. 

Why should I get my pet vaccinated against rabies?

All animals are at risk for rabies, vaccination helps prevent rabies in animals and in humans. Pets should visit their veterinarian regularly. Rabies vaccines should be kept up to date for cats, ferrets, and dogs. 

What can I do to reduce the spread of rabies?

You can help prevent the spread of rabies by always reporting animal bites, especially by wild or unfamiliar animals. You should always avoid contact with wildlife. The rabies status of unfamiliar animals is unknown, and if possible, should be determined after an encounter. 

Knowing and monitoring behavioral cues can be useful to avoid animal bites. Children should avoid being around pets while your pet is eating, and they should not hold the pet’s bones or toys.

How is the Florida Department of Health in Polk County involved in rabies prevention?

The Florida Department of Health in Polk County works closely with Polk County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services to investigate animal bites and dangerous dog cases. We ensure that animal bite victims are evaluated for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis initiation and provide support and training on the risks of rabies infection.

To learn more about rabies prevention, cdc.gov/rabies.

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