WDH reminds public about rabies prevention

Family gives pet dog a bath

With the onset of warmer weather, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is warning residents to beware of wild animals that may carry rabies, especially bats, as they become more seasonally active.

“Many people do a good job of protecting their family pets from rabies, but don’t realize other animals can sometimes be a threat,” said Dr. Emily Curren, state public health veterinarian with WDH. “Rabies can infect any mammal, including humans.”

Humans and pets can get infected from the bites or scratches of an animal with rabies. People cannot get rabies by touching or handling an animal or its blood, feces or urine.

In Wyoming, rabies is most commonly found in bats and skunks.

Curren said there have been seven confirmed rabies cases so far this year in Sheridan County skunks. Last year, there were 19 confirmed cases of animal rabies across the state, including 13 in bats.

“Rabies is a fatal but preventable disease,” Curren said. “Anyone with potential exposure to a rabid animal should wash the wound thoroughly with warm water and soap, and seek medical advice about the need for rabies post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment.”

Because bat bites are not always visible, anyone who has direct contact with a bat or who wakes up with a bat in their room should immediately contact a doctor or public health provider for assessment. If possible, any bat that comes into contact with humans should be carefully captured so that rabies testing can be performed.

General tips for preventing rabies:

  • Don’t touch or feed wild or stray animals.
  • Treat animal bites with soap and water and contact a medical professional immediately.
  • People waking to find a bat in their room or a child’s room should contact a medical professional immediately.
  • Vaccinate dogs, cats, ferrets, horses and other selected livestock for rabies and keep vaccinations up-to-date.

For more information about rabies exposure in Wyoming, please visit https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/infectious-disease-epidemiology-unit/disease/rabies/.

Cheyenne Laramie County Public Health Department carries the rabies vaccine. For more information about those or any other vaccine, please give us a call at 307-633-4000 or visit our office located at 100 Central Ave in Cheyenne.