OKLAHOMA CITY - As the weather warms up, the Oklahoma Department of Health encouraged pet owners to vaccinate their pets against rabies. So far this year, there have been nine confirmed cases of rabies in the state - eight skunks and one cow.

“When pets are unvaccinated, their vaccinations are out-of-date, or pets are not vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian, their owners have some very tough decisions to make if their pets are exposed to a rabid animal," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley.

If a dog or cat is exposed to a rabid animal, state law requires the animal be quarantined at a vet's clinic for four months or euthanized at the owner's expense. Unvaccinated horses or livestock are generally quarantined on the owner's premises for six months with periodic evaluations by a veterinarian.

Having pets vaccinated also reduces the chance for human exposure.

Be suspicious of animals exhibiting these symptoms:

  • Lack of fear of people
  • Listless, confused or less active than normal
  • Difficulty moving or appearing paralyzed
  • Unusual or inappropriate aggression 

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system and is usually fatal once symptoms have started. It's transmitted through a bit or through contact with open skin wounds or mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth.

If anyone suspects an animal has been exposed to rabies, contact a veterinarian or your local county health department. You can also call 405-271-4060 24 hours a day.