Rabies cases already hit another big number in Pima County for 2013

TUCSON, AZ (TNN) – A summer sight that brings out the crowds is also a place to exercise caution.  Out of about twenty rabies cases in pima county so far this year, fourteen have been found in bats.

"I wouldn't take the dogs, I don't think," said Barbara Holtzman as she held the leash to her golden retriever.

Holtzman and Dan Norton make sure that their golden retrievers aren't exposed to the disease.  Pima County Health urges people to be careful.  The county hasn't had a human rabies case in decades.  But if you think you've been bitten or scratched by a bat or other wild animal, you should get the rabies shots.

"The best bet is to err on the side of caution because, again, rabies is, the vast majority of people will die from rabies," said Michael Acoba, the Epidemiology Program Division manager for the Pima County Health Department.  He pointed out that the rabies shot is four shots that can be placed in the arm, similar to a flu shot.

"The steps you can take include feeding them where wild animals can't get to, and watering them where wild animals can't get to, those types of precautions.  When you're out with them, have them on a leash.  Always be with them so they don't get away to chase that wild animal," said Kim Janes, manager of the Pima County Animal Care Center.

Owners who don't have current vaccinations for their dogs will have to put them in vet quarantine for six months if they are exposed to a wild animal that can't be caught.  That stay is reduced to 45 days at home if the pet has current vaccinations.

"If you have a pet, you should take care of it.  That's my opinion," Norton said.

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