HELENA – Public health officials across the state are reminding Montanans to be aware of the risk of exposure to rabies this summer. Encounters between humans and animals often increase in the summer months due to outdoor activities.
Rabies is a fatal disease that’s carried in the saliva of infected warm-blooded animals and is usually transmitted through bites. Human rabies deaths in the U.S. are rare, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , and average approximately one to two deaths per year since the 1990s.
“Rabies can be prevented by avoiding physical contact with stray or wild animals,” said Jen Miller, a registered nurse with the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).
“Seek preventive treatment if you think you have been exposed. Rabies is not spread through indirect contact from objects that potentially rabid animals have come into contact with, such as animal food bowls after a skunk has eaten dog food,” said Miller.
If someone is bitten by a domestic dog, cat or ferret, the animal can be observed for signs of rabies, but if the animal cannot be located, observed or tested, they may need to undergo a series of shots to prevent rabies.
DPHHS reminds everyone of the following rabies prevention tips:
- Do not feed or handle wild animals, especially bats
- Avoid animal bites from domestic animals
- Vaccinate dogs and cats against rabies
- Bat-proof your home
- Watch for abnormal wild animal behavior
Click here for additional information on rabies visit the DPHHS website.