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July 1, 2005 For Immediate Release Media Contact: Michelle Pintar (414) 431-6104 Media Contact: Raquel Filmanowicz (414) 286-3175

First Observance in Milwaukee Aims to Alert Community about How to Keep Family and Companion Animals Safe

MILWAUKEE – What do raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes have in common? They're the most common carriers of rabies. Although few people die annually, costs have risen to detect, prevent and control. Recent positive rabies tests of three bats in the City of Milwaukee underscore the need to be safe around wild animals. “We don't want to scare the community about the possibility of coming in contact with a rabid bat, but want to educate them about key points that will help keep them safe,” said Victoria Wellens, executive director of the Wisconsin Humane Society. “I want to stress that getting in contact with a rabid bat is possible, yet very unlikely.” “Prevention is the core of public health efforts to keep the Milwaukee community safe from disease,” said Commissioner of Health Bevan K. Baker. “Providing the necessary resources and information related to rabies is key to sound decision-making.” In an effort to spread the word about how to protect your family and your companion animals from rabies, the Wisconsin Humane Society and the City of Milwaukee Health Department have declared July as Rabies Awareness Month in Milwaukee. It is imperative that the community is aware of the following important information about rabies derived from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( · Since May 23, three bats have tested positive for rabies in the City of Milwaukee . If you

are bitten by a bat or other wild animal, or come into contact with potentially infectious bodily fluid such as saliva, wash the exposed area with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. If you discover an animal, such as a bat, in a bedroom – even if you don't think you have been bitten – still immediately seek medical attention and call your local municipal

health department. Domestic animals can also be infected with rabies, so if it is safe to do so, contain the biting animal and contact your doctor if you are bitten. · After finding a dead wild animal such as a bat in your home, wear leather work gloves and

place the animal in a small box, securely taping the box shut. You should proceed to call your local health department for information about where to take the bat, raccoon or other wild animal for rabies testing. · If there is a chance your companion animal has been in contact with a wild animal, contact

both your veterinarian and local health department immediately. It is imperative that you keep your animal current on all vaccinations. · The Wisconsin Humane Society and the City of Milwaukee Health Department recommend

that you bat-proof your home. A few simple steps include covering any holes on the outside of your home that are larger than a quarter, and caulking cracks that are 3/8” or more wide. Maintain intact window screens, install chimney caps, make sure attic vents are covered with screening and keep all doors closed tightly. · NEVER attempt to take in wild animals as pets or bring them into your home, and don't

handle or feed them. Also teach your children to never approach or handle unfamiliar animals. · The vast majority of bats are healthy, beneficial creatures that consume large numbers of

insects, such as mosquitoes. ###

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Description: The Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) is a private nonprofit organization whose mission is to build a community where people value animals and treat them with respect and kindness. For more than 125 years, WHS has been saving the lives of animals in need.