Rabies is a virus that affects the central nervous system. It is usually transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal via a bite or a scratch. In the United States, raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats are the animals most likely to become infected with rabies. However, any warm-blooded mammals, including humans, can be affected by the virus. Domestic animals such as cats, dogs, and ferrets are also at risk for rabies but can be protected by getting vaccinated against rabies.  

Rabies is a serious and fatal infection that causes disease in the brain and leads to death. The number of rabies-related human deaths in the United States has declined from more than 100 annually at the turn of the century to one or two per year since the 1990's. Modern day prophylaxis has proven nearly 100% successful.

It is important to know the signs and symptoms of rabies in an infected animal. A rabid animal may exhibit some of the following symptoms:
  • Behavior change: the animal may look anxious, aggressive or more friendly then normal
  • Excessive drooling
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Paralysis 
Montgomery County Health Department recommends the following to protect yourself and your pets against rabies:
  • Vaccinate dogs and cats against rabies as required by law.  All dogs and cats more than three months of age must be vaccinated against rabies. Keep vaccinations current at all times.
  • Keep dogs and cats under control. Animal control laws prohibit allowing animals to roam unsupervised. Roaming pets are more likely to have been exposed to rabies than those supervised by their owners.
  • Leave stray or unknown dogs and cats alone. Stray animals are more likely to have been exposed to rabies and to attack others.  Keep pets away from strays too.
  • Avoid wild animals even if they appear friendly, and do not coax a wild animal to eat from your hand. Do not fear wild animals, just respect and stay away from them. Very young children can learn this rule.
  • Do not keep wild animals as pets. There are no approved vaccines for wild animals.
  • Make your property unattractive to wild animals. Cap chimneys and seal off any openings in attics, under porches and in basements. Feed your pets indoors and keep trash cans tightly closed.

For More Information

MCHD Rabies Clinic Flyer
MCHD Rabies Clinic Reminders
CDC Rabies Home Page
PA Department of Agriculture
PA Bureau of Laboratories
  1. Bite Report Forms
  2. Healthcare Providers
  3. Veterinarians
  4. Bat Info
  5. Rabies Vaccine