AUGUSTA, Maine — Saturday, Sept. 28, is World Rabies Day, and this month events are planned across the state to remind Mainers about ways to protect themselves and their pets from rabies infection.
This year, activities will include a school poster contest and educational tables at community events through early October.
“In light of the recent rabid fox in Cumberland County, this is a great opportunity to ask questions about how to protect yourself and your pets from rabies,” said Dr. Sheila Pinette, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control.
The educational tables can be found:
— 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, at the Oxford County Fair.
— 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Knox County Humane Society Whisker Walk.
— 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, L.L.Bean Fall Hunting Expo.
— 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, at Maine CDC KeyBank Plaza, Augusta
— 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, at Northwoods Law Day at Maine Wildlife Park.
— 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6, at the Fryeburg Fair.
Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals, but 50,000 people die from rabies worldwide each year. The virus is spread when infected animals bite or scratch a person or another animal. The virus can also be spread if saliva or tissue from the brain or spinal cord of a rabid animal touches broken skin or gets into the mouth, nose or eyes of a person or another animal.
All mammals are susceptible to rabies, but a few wildlife species are important reservoirs for the disease, including raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. “While wildlife are more likely to be rabid than are domestic animals in the United States, domestic animals can be infected when they are bitten by wild animals,” said Dr. Stephen Sears, state epidemiologist.
Pet owners can take important steps to protect their pets from rabies.
— Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all dogs, cats and ferrets.
— Keep your pet on your property and under direct supervision when outdoors.
— Call animal control to remove stray animals from your neighborhood since these animals may be unvaccinated or ill.
— If your pet is bitten or scratched by another animal, call your veterinarian to find out if it needs medical attention.
— Report all animal bites to the town in which the bite occurred.
Rabies in humans is preventable through prompt appropriate medical care. If you or someone you know is bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the wound right away with soap and water. Contact your health care provider to find out if you need to be treated for a rabies exposure. Medical care can generally be delayed if the biting animal can be confined for 10 days, if domestic, or tested for rabies, if wild.
For information, contact your local animal control officer or the Maine CDC at 800-821-5821. Check Maine CDC’s World Rabies Day website for details at www.mainepublichealth.gov/rabies.