CCHD Reminds Residents to Protect Themselves from Rabies

The Cascade City-County Health Department (CCHD) wants to remind residents that there are steps they can take to help prevent rabies. Rabies is a serious disease, and according to the CDC, approximately 55,000 people die from it worldwide each year. “There are steps that we can all take to help keep ourselves and our families healthy and safe. For example, it is important that people and children avoid contact with unfamiliar animals,” says Alex Dachs, Environmental Health Sanitarian for CCHD. He goes on to add that “there are steps residents can also take to care for their pets and make sure they remain healthy and free of rabies.”

Rabies is a deadly virus that attacks an individual’s nervous system, so it is imperative that peoploe understand the importance of protecting themselves. Below are some tips to help keep you and your family healthy and safe.

  • Enjoy wild animals (raccoons, bats, foxes) from afar. Never handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
  • Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.
  • Bat-proof your house. Close all outside openings larger than 3/8″ in the walls, roof, and floors. Put screens on all windows, doors, and chimneys to prevent bats from entering structures.
  • If you find a dead bat or other animal, don’t touch or handle it, and make sure you dispose of it properly. Without touching the animal, use a scoop or shovel to pick it up and place it in a plastic garbage bag. The bag containing the remains can then be placed in an outside garbage can.
  • If a bat has made its way into your home, use caution and call animal control. It is important that the bat is captured by animal control, sent in, and tested for rabies.
  • Call 771-1180 to report sick or stray animals. Do not try to nurse a sick animal to health or bring wild animals into your home.

Having pets also means taking steps to ensure they stay safe and healthy. This includes the following important precautions.

  • Vaccinate dogs, cats, and ferrets against rabies, and make sure they have a current rabies certificate. Cats are especially susceptible to rabies exposure from bats because cats catch bats more often than other domestic animals do.
  • Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come into contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for that animal immediately.
  • Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.

If you have been bitten by an animal, please contact your physician, report to a local Emergency Department, or contact CCHD at 454-6950 to ensure that you recieve proper treatment.

For more information please visit CCHD Environmental Health’s Rabies section or┬áthe Montana Department of Livestock, or call CCHD at 454-6950 and ask to speak with an Environmental Health Sanitarian. You may also download our printable fact sheet.