Friday, June 2, 2017

Agriculture: Pennsylvanians Urged To Vaccinate Pets, Take Precautions Against Rabies

As Pennsylvanians enjoy outdoor activities across the Keystone State, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding Friday offered a series of tips to reduce the threat of rabies, such as vaccinating pets and staying clear of wild animals.
“Rabies is a year-round threat to human safety as well as our pets and livestock, but warmer months bring greater potential for encounters with wildlife that can harbor the disease,” said Secretary Redding. “By avoiding contact with wild mammals and vaccinating your dogs and cats for rabies, you and your family can stay safe.”
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous systems of mammals, including humans, and is nearly always fatal. The incubation period for rabies in humans is usually three to eight weeks, but can be as short as one week and as long as nine years.
It is never too late to seek medical attention for a potential rabies exposure.
Exposure to the rabies virus can occur in multiple ways:
-- Direct bite from a contagious rabid mammal;
-- Scratch from a rabid mammal that breaks the skin;
-- Saliva or neural tissue from a contagious rabid animal contacting an open wound or break in the skin; or
-- Saliva or neural tissue from a contagious rabid animal contacting mucus membranes, such as in the eyes, nose or mouth.
Washing a bite or scratch immediately with soap and water can reduce the risk of rabies significantly.
Pennsylvania law requires all dogs and non-feral cats three months of age and older to be vaccinated against rabies. Booster vaccinations must be administered periodically to maintain lifelong immunity.
Failure to comply with the law may result in a fine of up to $300.
The department’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement checks for proof of vaccination as part of its statewide dog license canvassing efforts.
Pets and other domestic animals exposed to rabid animals will be quarantined. Quarantine length depends on the rabies vaccination status of the exposed domestic animal. If you have other pets or livestock, consult your veterinarian about vaccinating those animals.
People should avoid contact with wild animals and take precautions to limit contact between their domestic animals and wild animals. In particular, avoid wild animals acting abnormally – including feral cats.
Symptoms include unusual aggression, daytime activity by nocturnal species, lethargy, drooling and paralysis. Not all animals show every sign. Most neurological or behavioral abnormalities could potentially be rabies.
If you encounter an animal that you suspect may have rabies, contact your local law enforcement or Game Commission office. Your regional Department of Agriculture office can assist in safely preparing and submitting the animal for rabies testing.
If you may have been exposed to the rabies virus, seek immediate medical attention.
For more information on rabies and human health, visit the Department of Health’s Rabies webpage or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH. The department’s website also hosts information on the number of rabies cases reported per month and per year, including county-by-county breakdowns.
For more information on protecting your pets and livestock from rabies, visit the Department of Agriculture’s Rabies webpage or contact Shanice Taylor at 717-783-6533 or send email to:

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