Public health officials recommend taking some precautions to protect yourself from exposure to rabies:
- Stay away from wildlife and animals you don't know. "Everyday we get calls from someone who's petted a stray cat" and then gets worried, Maryland's public health veterinarian Dr. Clifford Johnson said.
- Unusual behavior in an animal can be a symptom of rabies. For instance, normally nocturnal animals like raccoons might appear in broad daylight, a bat might fall to the ground and flop around or a wild animal might appear friendly to humans, Johnson said.
- People can be bitten by a bat and not know it. If you wake up in the morning and there's a bat in your bedroom go for treatment or catch the bat and have it tested, he advised.
Put gloves on before you handle your pet if it has been in a fight with a wild animal, Washington County Health Department Sanitarian Rebecca Sauceda said. Wash your hands afterward with soap and water.