The Wyoming Department of Health is urging residents to take rabies prevention strategies. Those strategies include vaccinating pets and livestock and may include quarantine. State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Karl Musgrave says that even if there is just the possibility that someone has been exposed to rabies, they generally begin a regimen of five or six shots, because if the disease develops, it's almost always deadly.

Rabies is contagious and deadly:

"The rabies virus, once people get the virus and start developing symptoms, the rabies virus almost always leads to death. There have been a few cases where people have survived."

With such a dangerous disease, the best prevention strategy is to vaccinate and stay current on vaccinations for dogs, cats, ferrets, horses and other selected livestock.

Prevention of dire disease:

"It's a definite concern for people and they should make sure that they do everything they can to prevent their pets and other animals from into to contact with the rabies virus."

According to a Health Department release, 20 skunks, 12 bats and two calves tested positive for rabies in Wyoming in 2010.

So far in 2011 there have been 10 positive skunks (most from Laramie County) and one calf. Dr. Musgrave noted the numbers of cases confirmed by testing are likely far fewer than the actual number of rabies cases.

Besides vaccinations, another strategy is avoid contact with wild animals and seek medical attention even for minor animal bites.

Rabies prevention tips from the Health Department:

· Keep pets under supervision in a yard or on a leash to minimize contact with wild animals.

· Enjoy wildlife such as skunks, bats, raccoons and foxes from a safe distance.

· Never adopt wild animals or bring them into the home. Do not try to nurse sick or injured animals – call animal control for help.

· Teach children to never approach unfamiliar dogs, cats or wildlife, even if they appear friendly.

· Report animals acting strangely to city or county animal control departments.

· Treat animal bites with soap and water and contact a medical professional immediately.

· People waking to find a bat in their room or a child’s room should contact a medical professional immediately as bats have such small teeth even unknown or minor contact with bats has led to rabies infection.

For more information visit http://www.wyorabies.org/ or call Dr. Musgrave at 307-777-5825.