Health officials urge awareness, caution as part of rabies information campaign

Riverside County health officials are working to grow awareness of the dangers of rabies to humans and animals as part of World Rabies Day on Sept. 28. The annual observance is held to remind residents that rabies can make people sick if they acquire the disease through physical contact with an infected animal.

“It’s never a good idea to touch or handle an animal, particularly a wild animal, dead or alive. Doing so places an individual at risk of becoming sick with this fatal disease,” said Barbara Cole, Disease Control Director with Riverside University Health System – Public Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease that can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal. In the United States, rabies is mostly found in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes. However, in many other countries dogs still carry rabies, and most rabies deaths in people around the world are caused by dog bites.

“Due to the serious nature of this disease, the rabies vaccine is required by law for all dogs in the state of the California,” said Dr. Sara Strongin, chief veterinarian, Riverside County Department of Animal Services.   

Strongin added that as part of the World Rabies Day, FREE rabies vaccinations and microchipping will be offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 28 at Riverside County animal shelters in Jurupa Valley (6851 Van Buren Blvd., Jurupa Valley) and Coachella Valley (72-050 Pet Land Place, Thousand Palms).

Rabies infected animals will exhibit symptoms that include lethargy, fever, vomiting and anorexia. Signs progress within days to cerebral dysfunction, cranial nerve dysfunction, ataxia, weakness, paralysis, seizures, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, abnormal behavior, aggression, and/or self-mutilation.

Rabies can be prevented if the proper treatment is administered before symptoms occur. Residents who have had contact with wildlife or unfamiliar animals, or have been bitten or scratched, should wash any wounds immediately with soap and water and then plan to see a healthcare provider.

Visit to schedule an appointment for the FREE rabies vaccine clinic planned for Sept. 28.

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Photo caption above: A staff member administers a free rabies vaccine.



Image Sources

  • Rabies Information Campaign: RivCo Department of Animal Services