Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jay Lynch, Communications Director
(302) 540-4979, Pager
Date: August 16, 2011
Vaccinating pets and avoiding unfamiliar animals that can carry rabies are the best defenses against this deadly disease. Raccoons, foxes, bats, skunks and cats have been the most frequent carriers of rabies statewide. Rabies can kill both animals and humans and outdoor activities can put Delawareans at risk for exposure. When untreated, exposure to rabies is typically fatal. Fortunately, rabies is highly preventable by taking the following steps.
Rabies prevention starts with the animal owner. Animals that have frequent contact with humans should be vaccinated. All dogs, cats and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies. Consider vaccinating valuable livestock and horses.
"By vaccinating your pet against rabies, you can protect others, who may encounter your animal, from obtaining this fatal disease," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director.
Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by preventing them from roaming and mingling with wildlife. "With suburbia encroaching more and more into historically rural areas, encounters with wildlife are inevitably going to increase," said Rob Hossler, game animal program manager with DNREC's Division of Fish and Wildlife. "It's become more important than ever that people enjoy their viewing of wildlife from a safe distance - for both their and the animals sake - and try to keep themselves and their pets from coming in direct contact with wildlife, some of which might be carriers of diseases such as rabies."
Steps to take include:
Humans become infected with rabies when they are bitten or scratched by an animal infected with rabies. Transmission is usually through saliva via the bite of an infected animal. Fortunately, there is a highly effective treatment for people who have been exposed to prevent rabies. This treatment consists of a four-dose rabies vaccination in combination with rabies immune globulin. Administration of this treatment is considered a medical urgency, not a medical emergency.
If you are bitten, it's important to take the right steps.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.