Rabies is a viral infection of the central nervous system. People usually get rabies from the bite, scratch or lick of an infected animal. If rabies is not treated before symptoms begin, it can result in death. Most people who get rabies have symptoms two to eight weeks after exposure.
Skunks, raccoons, bats, foxes and unvaccinated dogs, cats and livestock can be infected with rabies. The first sign of rabies in an animal is usually marked by a change in behavior. Animals with rabies may become unusually withdrawn or tame and friendly. Some become excited, irritable, aggressive, and may bite or snap. Staggering, convulsions or frothing at the mouth are sometimes seen.
If you are bitten by any animal do the following:
- Immediately wash your wound with lots of soap and water. Scrub the bitten area gently.
- Get medical help. Call your family doctor or closest hospital emergency room.
- Report the incident to the police.
- If the animal is alive, try to safely capture it so it can be tested for rabies or quarantined.
- If the animal escapes, try to remember what it looks like.
- If the animal is dead, save it for examination. Cover your hands with heavy plastic or gloves before touching the carcass. Try not to damage the head.
- If the biting animal is a pet dog or cat, get the owner's name, address and phone number. Find out if the animal has a current rabies shot and write down the rabies tag number.
- If your pet or livestock has been bitten by a possibly rabid animal and you must handle your animal within two hours of the incident, wear gloves and afterwards be sure to wash your hands very well with soap and water. Try to capture the possibly rabid animal. Call your veterinarian.
A safe vaccine and rabies immune globulin are available. A total of four injections of vaccine are given over a period of 14 days, usually in the upper arm. You should also get a one time dose of rabies immune globulin along with the first dose of vaccine to provide immediate but temporary immunity until the vaccine gives long lasting protection.
Vaccination is $9 per pet and includes free microchipping and an initial pet license. Payments are made at the time of appointment. Cash and check are accepted.
Know Before You Arrive
In order to be vaccinated, your animal must be at least 12 weeks old and secured on a non-retractable leash or in an escape-proof carrier. Muzzles are required for aggressive dogs.
Pets with valid proof of prior rabies vaccination are eligible for a three-year vaccination certificate. All other pets will receive a one-year rabies certificate. Bring your valid rabies certificate to your appointment.
Baltimore County law requires pets to be licensed and for rabies vaccinations to be kept up-to-date. Other precautions against rabies include obeying leash laws and avoiding contact with wild animals or unknown domestic animals.
Animal Services offers rabies vaccination clinics at our Baldwin and Dundalk locations.
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