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County of Sonoma California

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Rabies Prevention: Vaccinate. Don't Handle Wildlife. Report Exposure.

Información en Español

Rabies is a rare, but very serious disease, and is almost always fatal to humans and domestic animals if not treated before symptoms appear.

How common is rabies?

Rabies occurs throughout the United States, primarily in wildlife. Since 2010 Sonoma County has had 15 positive animals: 13 bats, 1 fox, and 1 domestic cat. These animals have been widely distributed across the county. This is similar to previous years and reflects the ongoing presence of rabies in wildlife statewide.

What are the most important things I can do to prevent rabies?

cat vaccinationdog vaccination

1. Vaccinate all domestic cats and dogs age 4 months and older, as required by law in Sonoma County. Low-cost vaccinations are available:

  • Visit VIP PetCare's website at to find a clinic near you.
  • To make an appointment with the Sonoma County Animal Services Love Me, Fix Me mobile spay/neuter clinic (rabies vaccination vouchers provided until Fall 2013, then vaccinations will be administered as part of the clinic), call (800) 427-7973.

2. Admire wildlife from afar: do not touch or handle wild animals.

How is rabies transmitted?

Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of a rabid animal when the animal bites a person or another animal, or when the saliva of the rabid animal gets into a break in the skin, or into the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Which animals in Sonoma County are most likely to carry rabies?

batskunkfoxfrothing dog

Bats are, by far, the most common carriers of rabies in Sonoma County, followed by skunks, foxes, raccoons, and unvaccinated domestic animals.

What are the signs of rabies in wild animals?

  • Tame behavior: a wild animal seems unafraid of people or approaches people.
  • Daytime appearances: nocturnal animals like bats and skunks are active during daytime hours.
  • Inability to fly: bats on the ground or caught by a domestic animal.

What are the signs of rabies in pets?

  • Difficulty walking.
  • Difficulty eating or drinking.
  • Change in behavior or temperament.

Is rabies treatable?

Rabies is highly preventable if swift action is taken. If a person has been bitten or scratched by an unfamiliar animal or an animal suspected of having rabies, immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and then seek medical attention. Once symptoms occur, rabies is almost always fatal.

What should I do if I suspect a person has been exposed to rabies or bitten by a wild animal?

Contact Sonoma County Disease Control immediately at (707) 565-4567.

What should I do if I suspect my pet has been exposed to rabies or bitten by a wild animal?

Contact Sonoma County Animal Services immediately at (707) 565-7100.

What should I do if I suspect a wild animal has rabies?

Contact Sonoma County Animal Services at (707) 565-7100.

For additional information:

Download this 8.5" x 14" brochure (pdf).

Public Health logo

I am a Veterinarian. What is my role in preventing rabies?

Rabies-prevention Resources for Vets

Related Links

Animal Services website

Print Materials

Brochure: Rabies (pdf)
Prints on 8.5" x 14" paper.

Poster: Rabies: Prevent It (pdf)
Prints on 11" x 17" paper.