DARKE COUNTY – Rabies is present throughout the world and is a preventable viral disease that causes acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). The virus exists in the saliva of mammals and is usually transmitted from animal to animal or from animal to human by biting.
The virus can also be spread by licking, when infected saliva makes contact with open cuts or wounds, the mouth, eyes and nose. If left untreated in humans and animals, rabies is fatal. Therefore, to survive rabies exposure, it is necessary to complete a rabies treatment under the supervision of a medical professional.
People usually get rabies when they are bitten by an animal that has the virus. In the U.S., the animals that most often get rabies are wild animals such as bats, foxes, raccoons and skunks.
Most human deaths occur in Asia and Africa where canine or dog rabies is common. Each year around the world, rabies results in more than approximately 59,000 deaths– that is nearly one death every 9 minutes. About 50 percent of all human rabies deaths worldwide occur in children under the age of 15. Only about three people per year die of rabies in this country, thanks to the veterinary, medical and public health infrastructure.
In 2015, the Ohio Department of Health, Zoonotic Disease Program, confirmed 20 bats and 6 raccoons that tested positive for rabies.
Should you ever encounter an animal bite, report it to your medical professional immediately. You should contact your local health department as well to get the facts on how to submit the animal for rabies testing, if you choose to.
World Rabies Day is September 28, 2016. This is a day to recognize the efforts of public health, medial, veterinary and animal control professionals in preventing animal rabies and protecting people from this fatal disease in the United States.
For more information and statistics, you can visit the Ohio Department of Health Zoonotic Disease Program Rabies Website at: https://www.odh.ohio.gov/odhprograms/bid/zdp/diseases/rabies.aspx
The Darke County Health Department is located at 300 Garst Ave., Greenville. Visit online at www.darkecountyhealth.org