(WXYZ) — The Oakland County Health Division is asking pet owners to have their dogs and cats vaccinated for rabies after the disease was confirmed in a domestic cat in Birmingham.
“People and their pets are urged to avoid encounters with unfamiliar animals, and keep pets protected by getting them vaccinated,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County. "Rabies is a fatal disease for both humans and pets and there is no known cure.”
This year alone, rabies has been verified in four bats, 11 skunks and one cat in Oakland County, and the division said vaccinating them regularly will protect them if they're exposed. It will also keep them from getting ill and infecting humans.
They say to keep pets indoors and supervise when outside, and limit exposure to wild animals. Outside cats are especially vulnerable.
“All pet owners should follow their personal veterinarian’s advice, but generally dogs and cats should be vaccinated every year or every three years, depending on how long a vaccine is designed to last, regardless of whether they go outside,” said Dr. Beth Grobson, the full-time veterinarian on staff at the Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center
If you or your household pet are bitten or scratched by a wild animal or an animal unknown to you, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical or veterinary attention immediately, even if your animal was previously vaccinated. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and is spread through bites or scratches. To report potential rabies exposure, call the Health Division at 248-858-1286. If bitten after Health Division business hours, seek medical attention for wound care. Your provider will work with the Health Division to report the bite and assess for potential rabies exposure.