Summer in Central Texas means more people taking their pets outside and a higher risk of running across critters with rabies. Here are five things you should know:
1. Domestic and wild animals are at risk. Rabies is most commonly found in the state among bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, wild dogs and feral cats. According to state health officials, 751 animals tested positive for it last year.
2. Rabies attacks the nervous system: It causes the throat to close up and accumulating saliva creates the “foaming of the mouth” symptom.
3. Infection through saliva: Rabies is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal or from the saliva of a rabid animal into an open wound. Never touch a wild animal.
4. Deadly in humans: If you are bitten, identify and, if possible, confine the animal for observation. Wash the would immediately and thoroughly. Call animal control and give them information about the animal. Call a doctor; symptoms can develop between 14 days and 18 months.
5. Protect your pets: Domestic animals should get a rabies vaccine every year and should never be allowed to roam a neighborhood. Health experts recommend putting down a dog or cat bitten by a rabid animal. But if the pet owner won’t do that, the pet is required to be vaccinated immediately and placed in strict isolation for 90 days. If the pet was vaccinated within the past year, it should receive a booster shot and be kept restrained for 45 days.