May is Rabies Awareness Month

May is Rabies Awareness Month. Take this opportunity to remind family and friends of the steps you can take to help prevent rabies from spreading through our community.

Rabies is an infectious disease caused by a virus that infects the nervous system of warm-blooded animals. Animals may show extreme excitement or aggression and may bite at their own limbs, attack stationary items, or other animals. They may also appear depressed and may show signs of paralysis in the face or hind limbs. Wild animals may lose their fear of humans.

A few days after an animal develops symptoms of rabies, it will die. An infected animal can transmit rabies through its saliva to a person or another animal several days before it shows any symptoms. Rabies can be spread through bites or scratches, contact with an open cut sore or wound, contact with mucous membranes (i.e. mouth, nose or eyes) or careless handling of a dead, rabid animal.

You can protect your family and your pets from rabies by observing a few simple rules:

  1. Have your pets vaccinated according to your veterinarian’s instructions (Note: It is law that all dogs and cats be vaccinated after 3 months of age).
  2. Warn your children to stay away from stray or wild animals. Observe wild animals from a distance.
  3. Do not keep wild animals as pets. They belong in the wild to be observed and enjoyed.
  4. Take measures to discourage wild or stray animals from taking up residence at your home. Do not feed them and cover up potential entrances such as uncapped chimneys or openings in attics or roofs.
  5. Do not trap and move wild animals to other locations. You may be inadvertently spreading the rabies virus. Call a professional trapper to remove unwanted animals.
  6. Do not touch dead or sick animals. Bury or dispose of deceased animals carefully, making sure pets cannot get to the carcasses.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the area with soap and water, write down the animal owner’s contact information, seek medical attention immediately, and report the bite to the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit.

For more information on rabies, please contact the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit at 519.352.7270, or visit our blog at