Rabies is a serious viral disease that can be transmitted from infected mammals to humans through a bite, a scratch or whenever animal saliva might come into contact with broken skin. Rabies can be found in wild animals such as raccoons, opossums, foxes or bats. It can also be transmitted to domestic animals, including cats and dogs, by infected wild animals.
Treatment for human exposure to rabies is most effective when administered soon after a bite or exposure to a rabid animal. Rabies in humans is nearly always fatal if treatment is not obtained quickly.
The Milwaukee Health Department reminds residents to take precaution around wild or stray animals. If you find a bat or other animal that may be infected in your home, health officials advise safely capturing and containing the animal until a public health official or physician can be consulted.
To limit exposure to animals that may be infected, health officials advise:
- Avoiding contact with wild animals such as bats, raccoons, opossums, skunks, foxes and animals that exhibit evidence of illness or disease.
- Vaccinating domestic cats and dogs against rabies and maintaining control and supervision of pets when outdoors.
- Preventing bats from accessing living quarters by keeping screens in good repair and closing small openings through which bats may enter.
To report human exposure to a bat or animal that may have rabies, contact your local public health department. In Milwaukee, call (414) 286-3521. For more information, visit www.milwaukee.gov/health.