Take Steps to Prevent Rabies in Pets, Livestock and Families

Wyoming Dept. of Health   5-26, 2016

Rabies prevention strategies, including animal vaccinations, can help state residents avoid a deadly disease for themselves, as well as for their pets and livestock, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).

In 2015 a Fremont County woman died due to rabies, which was Wyoming’s first recorded human rabies case. Over the years rabies has also been confirmed in Wyoming bats, cats, cows, dogs, foxes, horses, squirrels and skunks.

Dr. Karl Musgrave, state public health veterinarian with WDH, said there have been several confirmed cases of rabies so far in Sheridan County this year in skunks and in one cow.

Rabies can infect any mammal and affects the central nervous system, causing paralysis and ultimately death. Symptoms include behavior changes, including aggression and agitation, and excessive salivation.

Musgrave emphasized the importance of animal vaccinations. “This can keep pets, horses and other livestock from getting rabies, and help protect pet owners should pets be bitten by a rabid wild animal,” he said. Musgrave noted it is also important to report animal bites to local animal control officials and to follow recommended quarantine guidelines.

General tips for preventing rabies:

  • Enjoy wildlife such as bats and skunks from a safe distance.
  • People waking to find a bat in their room or a child’s room should contact a medical professional immediately as bats have such small teeth even unknown or minor contact with bats has led to rabies infection. If the bat can be safely captured, it can be tested.
  • Vaccinate dogs, cats, ferrets, horses and other selected livestock for rabies and keep vaccinations up-to-date.
  • Treat animal bites with soap and water and contact a medical professional immediately.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into the home. Do not try to nurse sick or injured animals – call animal control for help.
  • Report animals acting strangely to city or county animal control departments.
  • Teach children to never approach unfamiliar dogs, cats or wildlife, even if they appear friendly.
  • Keep pets under supervision or on a leash to minimize contact with wild animals.