NH DHHS Recognizes World Rabies Day

Concord, NH – The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is

recognizing World Rabies Day on September 28, 2011. The mission of this

event is to raise awareness about rabies and how to prevent it. Every year

about 40,000 US residents receive the series of shots called post-exposure

prophylaxis (PEP) due to potential exposure to rabies. Each year an

estimated 4.4 million Americans are bitten by animals, with a resulting

public health cost of over $300 million. Fifty percent of those bitten are

under the age of 15. Worldwide approximately 70,000 people die every year

due to rabies, an increase over past years.

Rabies is one of the most deadly human diseases, yet it is 100%

preventable. It is caused by a virus that animals and people can get

through certain exposures to saliva or nervous system tissue from a rabid

animal and is virtually always fatal without proper postexposure treatment.

So far this year 17 animals have tested positive for rabies in New

Hampshire. In the U.S., typically there are 1 to 3 human cases of rabies

reported per year. In New Hampshire so far this year, at least 243

residents sought care at a hospital emergency department for potential

exposure to rabies.

“Rabies is a very serious disease but it is also preventable,” said Dr.

José Montero, DHHS Public Health Director. “The most important thing for

people to remember is to avoid contact with wild animals, even baby

animals, especially if they seem tame and unafraid, because they may be

ill. If you encounter a wild animal that seems ill, contact your local

animal control or town health officer and do not go near it. It is also

important that people vaccinate their dogs, cats, and ferrets, and any

other animal that has regular contact with humans, such as horses.”

Some other steps to take to reduce the spread of rabies and exposure to

wild animals are:

· Don’t let your pets roam free to help prevent them from coming into

contact with wild animals

· Teach children to avoid wildlife and all animals they do not know


· Don’t feed or water your pets outside to avoid attracting wild


· Keep your garbage cans securely covered

· Bat-proof your home in the fall and winter

· Do not keep wild animals as pets

· If your pet has been bitten or scratched by an animal, put on gloves

before touching your pet

If you are bitten by an animal:

· Wash the wound immediately with soap and water for at least 5 minutes

· Contact your physician immediately

· Prompt and appropriate treatment after being bitten and before the

disease develops can stop rabies infection and prevent the disease

For more information on rabies, visit the DHHS website at www.dhhs.nh.gov

or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at