The Utah Department of Health is reminding residents of the danger of rabies as the first positive test for the viral disease was found in a bat in Washington County. 

Despite being found in Southern Utah, these bats can be found throughout the entire state and are the most common source of rabies in Utah. 

The University of Utah released an article written by Michael Moss, the medical director at the Utah Poison Control Center, going over the dangers of rabies in 2023 that still applies today. 

Moss said, “Rabies is a virus that causes a deadly infection and only affects humans and other mammals. While rabies infections in humans are very rare in the United States, with only 1 or 2 cases a year, more than 50,000 people receive treatment to prevent rabies annually. Many people call the poison center wondering if they need to get shots to prevent rabies after an animal bite. Treatment after a bite to prevent infection is called post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP.” 

Moss continued by stating the various animals that can carry the disease that targets the nervous system, but also stated how your pets will most likely be safe thanks to advancements in medical care. 

Moss said, “In the United States, the most common carriers of rabies are bats, skunks, foxes, and raccoons. Other animals such as birds and reptiles cannot get rabies. Due to a robust vaccination program, domestic dogs and cats are rarely infected and have not been responsible for a human case of rabies since the early 1990s. Small mammals like mice, rats, squirrels, hamsters, and rabbits have never infected a human with rabies.” 

Rabies can be spread by bites, scratches, and saliva from the infected animal. You don’t need a case of rabies to get the vaccine. Medical personnel recommend receiving the vaccine regardless of infection as it can prevent the disease from manifesting. 

More details can be found on the Utah Department of Health website. 

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