(HealthDay News) -- Rabies is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal.
The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each year occur in wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Domestic animals such as cats and dogs account for fewer than 10 percent of reported cases.
The CDC offers these suggestions to help prevent rabies:
- Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats and ferrets. This is important not only to keep your pets from getting rabies, but also to protect you and your family if your animal is bitten by a rabid carrier.
- Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance immediately.
- Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood.
- Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted animals that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.
- Enjoy wild animals (raccoons, skunks, foxes) from afar. Do not handle, feed or attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
- Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
- Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. "Love your own, leave other animals alone" is a good principle for children to learn.
- Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools and other similar areas, where they might come in contact with people and pets.
- When traveling abroad, avoid direct contact with wild animals and be especially careful around dogs in developing countries.
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