Santa Rosa, CA – April 10, 2015 – Two positive cases of animal rabies were reported during the first week of April to the County Department of Health Services. Both cases involve bats, one found in Sebastopol and one in Windsor. These were the first two animals to test positive for rabies in 2015.
While rare, rabies is a very serious contagious disease which is almost always fatal to humans and animals. It is spread from the bite of a rabid animal, or when the animal's saliva contacts a person's mouth, eyes or an open sore. Rabies is present throughout California and the continental United States.
"You can protect your family and pets from rabies by taking two simple steps," stated Dr. Karen Holbrook, Deputy Health Officer. "Make sure your pets and domestic animals are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations, and keep children and pets from approaching or touching wild or strange animals." Additional safety measures include:
- Make sure that any openings to your home such as crawl spaces, chimneys, attics, porches or garages are sealed or covered with thick wire screen to prevent entry by wild animals.
- Discourage wild animal foraging by not leaving pet food or other food outside and by securing garbage cans.
- Avoid feeding, touching or housing stray or wild animals. If you see an animal that is sick, injured, dead, orphaned or behaving oddly, leave it alone and contact Sonoma County Animal Services at the number below - do not try to handle the animal yourself.
If a bite or other significant exposure to rabies does occur, swift action can prevent progression to rabies disease. If a person has been bitten or scratched by an unfamiliar animal or an animal suspected of having rabies, immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and then seek medical attention. Ask your medical provider to report to and coordinate with Sonoma County Disease Control: (707) 565-4567.
Between 1997 and 2014, 44 wild and domestic animals have tested positive for rabies in Sonoma County. The most recent domestic animal that tested positive for rabies was a cat in 2013. Rabies occurs most frequently in wildlife. Of the remaining 43 rabies cases all involved wild animals: three skunks, one fox and thirty-nine bats.
If you suspect an animal has rabies, notify Animal Services at (707) 565-7100; after-hours, call (707) 565-2121.
For more information about rabies prevention, visit our webpage at: http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/Animal-Services/Rabies-Prevention/