What you need to know about dog bites, wild animals and rabies

I am a Registered Environmental Health Specialist (health inspector) with many years experience in the Rabies Program at Yolo County. Animal bites are a serious matter. Amongst other concerns is the possibility of contracting rabies. Though relatively rare, rabies is a particularly insidious disease that leads to death of mammals if not timely treated (and remember, we humans are mammals).

Here are four take-home lessons about rabies:

If another pet bites or scratches you or your pet/animal, immediately call Plumas County Animal Control so they can investigate and possibly quarantine the animal(s) and/or place the biting animal on their “aggressive animal list” (very useful for future action or litigation). If you were bit or scratched, you should timely discuss the incident with your doctor for possible post-exposure treatment.

If a wild animal bites or scratches you or your pet/animal, immediately call Plumas County Animal Control so they can investigate and possibly quarantine the animal(s) or test the biting animal for rabies. If you were bit or scratched, you should timely discuss the incident with your doctor for possible post-exposure treatment. Very important: If you find a dead bat in your home, use a shovel and place the bat in a paper bag and immediately call Plumas County Animal Control so they can investigate and possibly test the bat for rabies. If the bat is alive, try to cordon off the bat, for example by locking it in an unused bathroom, and immediately call Plumas County Animal Control so they can investigate and possibly test the bat for rabies.

Bats have very small fangs and have been known to bite young children, sleeping people and those under influence of alcohol or drugs without raising awareness. Regardless if you or your family know if you were bit, you should discuss the incident with your doctor for possible post-exposure treatment. Note: If you have bats in your attic or walls, call a bat removal specialist — traditional pest exterminators are not specially trained in bat remediation. For a list of bat removal specialists, visit Plumas County Environmental Health’s rabies webpage at countyofplumas.com/index.aspx?NID=2400 .

Vaccinate your dogs and cats against rabies. Cats are notorious for killing bats and other small animals, some of which could have rabies and therefore have exposed your cat. Plumas County Animal Control frequently offers low cost vaccinations — call for a list of upcoming vaccination clinics.

Mammals include humans, dogs, cats, bats, mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks, gophers, raccoons, skunks, porcupines, badgers, opossums, deer, bears, mountain lions, coyotes, wolves, foxes, rabbits, beavers, prairie dogs, cows, horses, donkeys, sheep, goats, pigs, hamsters and gerbils, just to name some.

I highly recommend you read Plumas County Environmental Health’s rabies webpage at countyofplumas.com/index.aspx?NID=2400 for excellent information regarding rabies and bat removal specialists.

Plumas County Animal Control: 530-283-3673.