Warning about Rabies

An animal suffering from rabies is not a pretty sight, and as the weather warms up experts warn more and more people may come into contact with a rabid animal.

"Of course we will try to capture the raccoon or skunk or whatever animal it may be," said Stephen Dodge, a supervisor with Wichita Falls Animal Control

Dodge has been with Animal Control for 12 years.

He said on average, his staff deals with 10-15 cases of rabid animals a year.

"Racoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes-they're all over too, and bats also," said Dodge.

The rabies virus attacks the hosts brain, often causing odd behavior, vicious attitudes, even death.

Stephen King's Cujo is a movie about a family dog out for blood after it's infected with rabies.

While the images evoke fear, experts know not all rabies symptoms are so terrifying.

"You can also have what we call a dumb form where they're just really lethargic and can't swallow and sometimes have seizures," said Dr. Bryan Wade, D.V.M. of A Caring Heart Veterinary Hospital in Wichita Falls.

Not only should people look out for angry or lethargic animals, but if an animal is normally active at night (i.e. racoons or skunks), and you see them during the day, you may want to think twice before playing nice.

"If they're not acting normal," said Dr. Wade, "then that's a good sign that something's up with that animal. I would avoid them."

Wade also said the best way to prevent your pet from getting rabies, is to get them vaccinated against the disease.

Most importantly, if you think you've been infected with rabies, call a doctor immediately.

"The virus is transmittable to humans," explained Dr. Wade, "and it is a deadly virus so you would definitely want to immediately seek medical attention and report it to animal control."

If you think you've come into contact with a rabid animal in Wichita Falls, after you call a doctor, call Animal Control at (940) 761-7824

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