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April 25, 2013

Rabies cases on the rise

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Cleveland County had zero rabies cases reported in 2012. However, surrounding counties such as McClain, Pottawatomie, Oklahoma and Grady had four or more cases each in 2012.

Health department statistics show the animals that test positive for rabies in Cleveland County are typically bats and skunks. The highest number of rabies cases in the past 10 years in the county has been five skunks and one bat, reported in 2003 and 2004.

The health department only tests animals for rabies if a person or other animals have been exposed. “Exposed” meaning if the animal bit a person or another animal, another animal is known or suspected to have bitten the animal in question or saliva from the animal has come in contact with a person or another animal’s broken skin or mucus membranes.

“Any warm blooded mammal can carry or contract rabies, but the primary carriers in North America are raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes and coyotes,” according to The Humane Society’s facts and safety guidelines for rabies. “Skunks are the dominant rabies victims in the north- and south-central states.”

The Humane Society’s website also states, “only if the typically nocturnal raccoon or skunk is exhibiting abnormal behavior should you seek advice from your local humane society,” adding that in early spring and summer mother raccoons may forage during the day to feed their young.

For more information or statistics about rabies, visit the Oklahoma Department of Health website at www.ok.gov/health/index.html and click on disease, prevention, preparedness or visit the Humane Society website at humanesociety.org/animals/resources/facts/rabies.html.

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