Rabies exposure more likely from household pets than the wild

WASHINGTON – As the weather gets nicer and you spend more time outdoors, be on the lookout for animals that may be infected with rabies.

Every year, about 40,000 people receive rabies shots after potentially being exposed. The main animals that get and transmit rabies include raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats. But most people get rabies by exposure through their pets who have been infected by a wild animal.

While dogs are most commonly associated with transmitting rabies to humans, people are more likely to be infected by their cat because cats are much more likely to come into contact with wild animals.

The best way to protect yourself and your family is to get your pets vaccinated and don’t feed or play with wild animals even if they seem friendly.

If you are bitten by any animal, wash the wound with soap and water and get to a doctor immediately. Also contact animal control in your community so they can try and find the animal and see if it has the rabies virus.

WTOP’s Alan Etter contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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