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Rabies cases reported

RHINELANDER, Wis. (WXPR) -- Two bats in Vilas county have been diagnosed with rabies in the past week and a Vilas county health official cautions the public to make sure pets are vaccinated.

Rabies is an infectious disease affecting the nervous system of mammals, including humans. People and unvaccinated animals can get rabies from an infected animal. If caught soon enough in humans, it can be treated, but if left untreated, it is almost always fatal.

Vilas County Health Officer Gina Egan says they had one human exposure andone animal exposure. Egan says wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes are not pets and should not be picked up. She says, "Keep your pets vaccinated. The animals that can be vaccinated are dogs, cats and ferrets.  It's an easy thing to do.  As far as bats in your house, keep your screens repaired, small openings to your house and attic sealed so they don't have access."

State Assistant Veterinarian, Dr. Darlene Konkle says sometimes you can't tell if an animal is affected, but often they show some signs.  "The classic signs are an animal that is disoriented or aggressive, but animals may not always exhibit those signs, especially early in the infection. So the best advice is not to touch or pick up any wild animals, or stray animals."

Dr. Konkle agrees with Egan that vaccinations are key.  "For people that own pets, the best defense is to keep animals current on their vaccinations."

More information is available from your local public health department oryour veterinarian.