Animals Pose Serious, Sometimes Fatal Risks

Animal bites can lead to serious health problems, and the Allen County Department of Health, Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control and the Allen County Sheriff’s Department want to remind you of the risks.

It’s also important that residents as well as doctors and veterinarians report bites and exposures to animals such as bats, which can spread diseases including rabies – a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted when people and pets are scratched or bitten by infected animals.

“Prompt, accurate reporting ensures you and your family are protected while lessening the chance of adverse disease outcomes,” Department of Health Administrator Mindy Waldron said. “Do not touch or feed wild animals, and make sure your pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations.”

Bites must be reported to Animal Care and Control to ensure proper procedure is followed in the instance an animal and/or person is exposed to rabies. Animal Care and Control can be reached at (260) 427-1244 (Option 1) during regular business hours Monday through Friday. After-hours callers will receive information about how to make a report.

An animal bite reporting form is available for download here: bit.ly/3a3HPru

“As a public safety agency, we work to protect the people and animals in our community through bite prevention and ensuring proper protocol is followed when a bite does happen,” Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control Director Amy-Jo Sites said. “The best way to keep your pets and family safe is to contact our department when a wild animal is sick, injured or in your home. Never touch wild animals.”

The Department of Health reported more than 700 animal bites in 2021, with the most common being dogs (591), cats, (116) and bats (15). Nearly 1,350 bites or exposures to people and pets were reported last year to Animal Care and Control. Exposures are anytime a person or animal comes into contact with a bat, raccoon or other wild animal that might carry rabies.

Bats are responsible for the most human cases of rabies in Indiana. Those exposed to them often are given the rabies vaccine as a precaution, especially if the bat is found in a room with a young child or sleeping person.

Bats have small, sharp teeth that might not leave a visible mark.

If you find a bat in your home, don’t kill it because there is a chance it might have come into contact with a person or pet. Residents are encouraged to contain the bat and contact Animal Care and Control immediately, so the animal can be tested for rabies.

To safely capture a bat:

  • Close windows and well as room and closet doors
  • Turn on lights
  • Wait for the bat to land
  • Wearing long sleeves and heavy gloves, cover the bat with a pail or similar container
  • NEVER touch a bat with bare hands
  • Call Animal Care and Control
    Grounded bats outdoors can be contained by covering it with a pail or similar container.
    Other tips to protect yourself from animals:
  • DO NOT keep wild animals as pets
  • Avoid animals you don’t know – including loose dogs or feral cats – or those that are wild, sleeping, injured, eating, or caring for young
  • Don’t feed or attempt to touch wild animals
  • Eliminate entry points around your home, garage, storage sheds or other structures
  • Keep pet food away from wild animals and secure garbage bin lids
  • Make sure pets are up to date on rabies shots

Information about reporting bites as well as tips for preventing bites can be found at fwacc.org or allencountyhealth.com/info-about/diseases-conditions/insect-animal-borne/animal-bites

The Waynedale News Staff
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