Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system. It spreads in the wild animal population often without notice. Humans are exposed to it when rabid animals come into contact with people or their pets. Only six people in the world ever have been known to survive rabies so prevention and treatment immediately after exposure is extremely important. Wilkes County Health Department works with Wilkes County Animal Shelter and the Humane Society of Wilkes to prevent the spread of rabies through rabies vaccination clinics; public education; investigating animal bites; testing and investigation of unvaccinated animals, and population control of unwanted animals. The Humane Society of Wilkes has financial assistance for spaying and neutering pets as well as a website of animals that need homes.
There are ways to protect yourself, your family, pets and community from rabies:
- Keep wild animals out of your home by securely fitting doors and windows, covering chimneys with screens and closing any holes in foundations, porches, basements and attics.
- Stay away from strays and other people’s pets (that may be unvaccinated).
- Keep your pet or animals confined to your property. Letting your pets run loose allows them to track down wild or rabid animals.
- Keep trash and pet food in animal-proof containers. Do not attract wild (and possibly rabid) animals by leaving your pet’s uneaten food outside, or by leaving food out for wild animals.
- Get your animals vaccinated against rabies by a professional and save the certificates. Do not try to vaccinate your own pets.
- Spay or neuter your pets to avoid unwanted animals.
- Finally, take all animal bites and scratches seriously. Call someone qualified to make a decision about you or your pet’s risk for rabies.
- If you need to capture an animal because it has bitten a person or pet, contact Wilkes County Animal Shelter. The head/ brain must be undamaged and kept under refrigeration for laboratory examination, so don’t shoot it in the head. Animal Control has better methods and training for capturing or destroying possibly rabid animals.