Rabies is caused by a virus that attacks the brain and spinal cord of humans and animals, transmitted mainly though bites, scratches, or tissue from an infected animal. It causes the most human deaths of any zoonotic disease (i.e. diseases which can be spread between animals and humans).
Protect yourself and family members with these five tips:
1. Get Pets Vaccinated
Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, and ferrets, and keep their vaccinations up-to-date. Otherwise, if your pet is bitten, you risk having to get them euthanized or quarantined for up to six months.
On September 27, between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., you can visit the Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s (AWLA) rabies and microchip clinic to get a low-cost vaccine.
2. Stay Away from Wild Animals
The easiest way to prevent rabies is to stay away from wild, unknown or aggressive animals. This includes not handling dead animals. To request removal of a dead animal that could pose a risk of rabies, specifically raccoons, foxes and bats, call AWLA at 703-931-9241.
3. Keep Pets Leashed
Don’t let pets roam free. Limit the possibility of exposing your pet to rabid animals by keeping them on your property or by using a leash when away from home. Arlington County law requires pets to be leashed when away from home or outside of a County dog park.
4. Seek Medical Care if Bitten
If you are bitten, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and lots of water and seek medical care immediately.
There is a series of vaccines you can get after the bite and before symptoms begin to prevent rabies. You can also get treatment for other possible infections that could be caused by the bite.
5. Report Animal Bites and Strange Behavior
If you or your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild or domestic animal, call AWLA. For human bites, also call the Arlington County Public Health Division at 703-228-5200, Option 1.
If you see an animal acting strangely, do not go near it and report it to AWLA.