September 27, 2011
State Health Department Recognizes World Rabies Day
World organizations seek to end deadly disease
SPRINGFIELD, ILL. – September 28, 2011 is World Rabies Day, a global campaign to spread the word about rabies prevention. With the theme, Working Together to Make Rabies History!, the World Rabies day initiative was founded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Alliance for Rabies Control to bring people around the world together to address rabies control and prevention.
“Rabies can be prevented through increased awareness and education about the disease, as well as pet vaccinations,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold said. “Preventing and controlling rabies starts at the community level. World Rabies Day is an excellent time to talk with a veterinarian about pet vaccinations and learn what animals typically transmit rabies and how to avoid them.”
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. However, rabies in humans is 100 percent preventable. Humans can get rabies after being bitten by an infected animal or when saliva from a rabid animal gets directly into the eyes, nose, mouth or a wound. Without medical treatment, rabies is a fatal disease. If you are bitten or exposed to a rabid animal, seek immediate medical attention. Treatment includes rabies immune globulin and a vaccine series.
In 2010, 117 bats tested positive for rabies in Illinois.
“You cannot tell by looking at a bat if it is rabid. The animal does not have to be aggressive or exhibit other symptoms to have rabies,” said Connie Austin, state public health veterinarian. “Any wild mammal, such as a raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote or bat, can have rabies and transmit it to humans.”
Changes in any animal’s normal behavior, such as difficulty walking or an overall appearance of illness, can be early signs of rabies. For example, rabid skunks, which normally are nocturnal and avoid contact with people, may approach humans during daylight hours. A bat that is active during the day, found on the ground or is unable to fly, is more likely than others to be rabid. Such bats are often easily approached, but should never be handled.
The following tips can help prevent the spread of rabies and protect communities:
Information about keeping bats out of your home or buildings can be found by logging on to www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/pcbats.htm.
Information about rabies can be found at www.idph.state.il.us/health/infect/reportdis/rabies.htm.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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