WADLEY, Ala. (WRBL) – The Alabama Department of Public Health is urging everyone to have their pets vaccinated against rabies after an east Alabama family was exposed to a rabid dog last week.
According to ADPH officials, the exposure happened in the town of Wadley, after the family took in a stray dog. Officials said the dog had no history of rabies vaccinations.
According to officials, not only is vaccination for rabies required for cats and dogs in the state of Alabama, it is also considered to be the best protection against the virus for both pets and their owners.
Currently, ADPH is investigating other potential exposures of people to the animal, so that those exposed can seek proper treatment.
Dr. Dee W. Jones, state public health veterinarian, said rabies is still a concern in Alabama. He wants to warn the public about the dangers of virus.
“The nature of the risks of human exposure to rabies has dramatically declined over the last 60 years or so, but since the virus is still seen frequently in raccoons, the risk is still relevant.”
Jones said its likely the dog was infected with rabies by a raccoon. According to Jones, raccoons are the reservoir for rabies in Alabama.
Alabama is one 17 states in the southeast that uses an oral rabies vaccine to reduce rabies in the raccoon population.
Pet owners are advised to take the following precautions to avoid possible exposure to rabies:
· Do not allow pets to run loose; confine them within a fenced-in area or with a leash.
· Do not leave uneaten pet food or scraps near your residence.
· Do not illegally feed or keep wildlife as pets.
· Do not go near wildlife or domestic animals that are acting in a strange or unusual manner.
· Caution children not to go near any stray or wild animal, regardless of its behavior.
· Advise children to tell an adult if they are bitten or scratched by any animal.
A person who is bitten or scratched by an animal should wash wounds immediately with mild soap and water, apply first aid, and seek medical attention or contact the county health department immediately.
For more information about rabies and prevention, please contact ADPH (334) 206-5969 or (334) 206-5100 or visit https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/infectiousdiseases/rabies.html