Every spring skunks, raccoons, foxes, and bats become more active as they transition from winter to spring. This activity leads to interactions with cats, dogs, and humans. Only a small percentage of these wild animals are rabid, but it is these interactions that lead to the transmission of the rabies virus.
Kennebec County had the most positive rabies cases in Maine in 2016. Of the 66 total positive rabies cases, Kennebec County reported fifteen cases. Nine of them occurred during the spring season. (This is from an online report by Maine’s DHHS: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/public-health-systems/health-and-environmental-testing/rabies/rabies2016.htm.)
It is important to take note when you see skunks, raccoons, or foxes acting unusually. Do not approach them or let your dog or cat get close to them. A bite, scratch, cut, or saliva from the infected animal to you or your pet could be fatal.
Cats More Likely than Dogs
Who would have thought cats are three time more likely to be exposed to rabies than dogs? It’s true according to this 2015 CDC report.
What Should You Do?
You are required by state law to make sure your dog or cat gets a rabies vaccination. Make sure they are up to date.
Rabies is fatal for unvaccinated cats and dogs. Dogs or cats exposed to rabies will require a booster and lengthy quarantine times. Animals that bite another animal or person may need quarantine up to 10 days or may be euthanized if requested if they are not vaccinated.
Prevent your pets from having contact with wild animals. Do this by covering compost and garbage bins and keeping an eye on your pets when they are out of the house.
Should Your Dog or Cat Be Bitten
If a domestic animal bit your dog or cat call your animal control officer, then call Hometown Vet. If your pet is fully vaccinated some combination of booster shot and quarantine is required. Should a wild animal bite your dog or cat call the local Game Warden, then call Hometown Vet. A rabies test will need to be performed on the wild animal to rule out rabies.