A nationwide shortage of rabies vaccine has prompted the Liberty and Long county health departments to encourage all residents to take serious precautions against contracting rabies.
Only two companies in the United States provide a vaccine to combat the rabies virus. For various reasons, both facilities are currently producing a limited supply. The short supply combined with high demand has resulted in a vaccine shortage for humans.
"Becoming infected with the rabies virus is something that can absolutely be avoided," said Saroyi Morris, director of environmental health for the Coastal Health District. "By taking the proper precautions to protect yourself and your pets, you can minimize the risk of contracting this potentially deadly disease."
Rabies can be transmitted through the bite, scratch, or saliva of an infected animal. The disease attacks the central nervous system and is often fatal. Rabies is carried by raccoons, bats, skunks, foxes and other mammals. Because family pets may encounter wild animals carrying the disease, it is extremely important to get pets vaccinated annually.
"Getting your pet vaccinated is easy, inexpensive, and the best way to protect your pets from this disease," Morris said. "It's also the law."
The Liberty and Long county health departments offer the following tips to help protect you and your family from rabies:
• Avoid wild or stray animals.
• Never adopt wild animals or try to nurse them back to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for help.
• Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, either wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
• Never handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out overnight.