Oakland County is reminding pet owners to have their dogs and cats vaccinated against the rabies virus after the Oakland County Health Division reported a confirmed rabies case in a domestic cat residing in Birmingham today. Residents are also urged to stay away from animals such as skunks, bats, raccoons, foxes, and stray cats and dogs.
“People and their pets are urged to avoid encounters with unfamiliar animals, and keep pets protected by getting them vaccinated,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County. «Rabies is a fatal disease for both humans and pets and there is no known cure.”
Rabies is present in our community. In 2019, rabies has been verified in four bats, eleven skunks, and one cat in Oakland County. Having pets vaccinated regularly will protect them if exposed to animals with the disease and prevent them from becoming ill and infecting humans. Keep pets indoors, supervise when outside, and always use a leash when walking to limit their exposure to wild animals that may be rabid. Outside cats are especially vulnerable.
“Outside cats have a far greater chance of encountering a wild animal that could be sick or aggressive,” said Bob Gatt, manager of the Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center. “Keeping your cats inside is the best way to ensure their continued safety.”
Cats and dogs should receive the rabies vaccine on a regular basis.
“All pet owners should follow their personal veterinarian’s advice, but generally dogs and cats should be vaccinated every year or every three years, depending on how long a vaccine is designed to last, regardless of whether they go outside,” said Dr. Beth Grobson, the full-time veterinarian on staff at the Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center.
If you or your household pet are bitten or scratched by a wild animal or an animal unknown to you, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical or veterinary attention immediately, even if your animal was previously vaccinated. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and is spread through bites or scratches. To report potential rabies exposure, call the Health Division at 248-858-1286. If bitten after Health Division business hours, seek medical attention for wound care. Your provider will work with the Health Division to report the bite and assess for potential rabies exposure.
Follow these additional steps to protect yourself from rabies:
• Keep away from unfamiliar animals, especially if they are acting strangely such as having problems swallowing, exhibiting lots of drool or saliva, appearing tamer than expected, biting at everything, and/or having trouble moving or are paralyzed.
• Do not leave food or water outside for pets when unattended.
• Keep garbage securely covered as these items may attract wild or stray animals.
More information about rabies is on the Health Division’s website at www.oakgov.com/health or by contacting Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Nurse on Call is available 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. For up-to-date public health information, follow @publichealthOC on Facebook and Twitter.
For media inquiries only please contact Bill Mullan, Oakland County media and communications officer, at 248-858-1048.