Stay away from strays



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STAY AWAY FROM STRAYS

Stray pets and wild animals can give you rabies.


Materials for Teachers


A Rabies Education Packet for

3rd, 4th and 5th Grade Students
Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Division of Epidemiology and Immunization
March 2002

How to Use This Curriculum

Rabies Q&A for Teachers

Introducing the Topic of Rabies to

Students

Materials for Kids

Rabies Reminders (to take home)

What Should You Do If...

Additional Activities

Rabies Review Quiz

Rabies Vocabulary Words

Rabies Maze – in PDF version only

Where’s the Risk? – in PDF version only

Word Search – in PDF version only


How to use the STAY AWAY FROM STRAYS Curriculum
STAY AWAY FROM STRAYS includes suggested remarks for the teacher to begin the program, student activities, and materials to take home. The program can normally be completed during a regular class period, although teachers have the option of expanding the program to more than one class period. A list of optional activities has been included in this guide as a supplement to the basic program. You may use this curriculum in its entirety or modify it to meet your needs and those of the students or school.
The following approach is recommended for presenting the

STAY AWAY FROM STRAYS program:




  • Review the “Rabies Q & A for Teachers” and other materials to familiarize yourself with the subject matter.

  • Use the “Introduction to Rabies” to begin the program.

  • Review the “Rabies Vocabulary Words” with students. Discuss any unfamiliar terms.

  • Discuss rabies, how it can be prevented, and what a child should do if bitten or scratched by an animal.

  • Engage in any or all of the rabies-related activities described in the packet.

  • Distribute Certificates of Participation to students.

Students completing the STAY AWAY FROM STRAYS program will

have a better understanding of rabies and its prevention. At the

completion of the program students should be able to:




  • Describe rabies and why it is an important health concern;

  • Identify wildlife that are most at risk for rabies;

  • Identify pets and other domestic animals that are most at risk of being exposed to or infected with rabies;

  • Describe the common symptoms of rabies infection in animals;

  • Describe how to protect themselves and their pets from rabies; and

  • Describe the steps to take if bitten or exposed to an animal.



This curriculum was created by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Immunization. It was adapted from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services "Take the Bite Out of Rabies"
“Rabies causes an inflammation

of the brain and is fatal once

symptoms develop.”
Rabies Questions and Answers for Teachers
The following is provided as background information for teachers presenting

STAY AWAY FROM STRAYS. It is intended to familiarize teachers/instructors

with rabies and common measures for controlling rabies and preventing

unnecessary exposures to the disease.
What is Rabies?

Rabies is a fatal disease that is caused by a virus. The rabies virus is present

predominantly in the saliva and nervous tissue (brain and nerve cells) of

infected animals and is transmitted most often by a bite. Rabies causes an

inflammation of the brain and is fatal once symptoms develop. Each year, over

6,000 cases of animal rabies are confirmed in the United States and more than

20,000 people receive anti-rabies immunizations after being exposed to a rabid

or a suspected rabid animal.


A serious outbreak of raccoon-strain rabies entered Massachusetts in 1992 and

subsequently spread to Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The magnitude

of the problem is demonstrated by the fact that over 3,000 animals have tested

positive for rabies in Massachusetts since 1992. However, thanks to prompt

and careful case-by-case implementation of rabies prevention guidelines by

state and local public health officials and healthcare providers, in Massachusetts

there have been no cases of human rabies associated with the outbreak.
In 1996, there was one human case of rabies in New Hampshire in a person

who had been exposed to a rabid animal while traveling overseas. The last

case of domestically acquired human rabies in New England was in Connecticut

in 1995, when a person died of bat-strain rabies.


In other parts of the world where medical treatment is not readily available and

where animal vaccination campaigns are not in place, some 40,000 — 70,000

persons die from rabies annually.
What signs does an animal with rabies exhibit?

Animals infected with rabies may be aggressive and attack without fear or

provocation (“furious” rabies) or may act stuporous and have difficulty walking

because of partial or total paralysis (“dumb” or “paralytic” rabies). Animals

that are usually only out at night may be seen during the daylight and may

approach people or other animals they would normally avoid. Drooling, or

what has become known as “foaming at the mouth,” may or may not be

present. It is very difficult to know if an animal has rabies just by the way it acts

or appears. The only sure way to know if an animal has rabies is to euthanize it

and have its brain tested.


Which animals are most likely to be infected?

Mammals, particularly raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats are most commonly

infected. Other mammals can be infected through bites from these animals,

including pets and livestock. Small terrestrial rodents (such as squirrels, rats,

mice, hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas) and rabbits are rarely found to have rabies.

Reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds, and insects do not carry rabies.


Through the distribution of an oral rabies vaccine for raccoons along the

northern side of the Cape Cod Canal, the spread of raccoon rabies to Cape

Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard has been prevented.
How do people get rabies?

Rabies infection in a person is usually the result of a bite or scratch from a

rabid animal. Infection can also occur when saliva from a rabid animal comes in

contact with a fresh, open wound or with the eyes or other mucous membranes. Getting saliva on the surface of intact skin does not cause rabies. Nor can you get rabies simply by petting an animal. Human rabies may develop weeks to months, and on occasion, years after a person is bitten or scratched by a rabid animal, if the person is not treated. Once symptoms develop, rabies is fatal.


What is the treatment for people exposed to rabies?

Animal bites and scratches should be immediately and thoroughly washed with

soap and water. Medical advice should then be sought to ensure that the

appropriate treatment is provided. This could include evaluating the risk of

wound infection and offering rabies vaccination.
Before the decision is made to treat an exposed person, the exposing animal, if

available, is evaluated to determine if it has rabies. Wild animals must be

euthanized and their brains tested for rabies virus. Dogs and cats are usually

confined and observed for signs of rabies infection. If the animal is not

available for testing, the decision to treat the exposed person(s) is based on the

assumption that the animal could have had rabies.


Rabies can be prevented by immunization, if administered shortly after

exposure. The treatment for people exposed to rabies involves two

medications. One, called rabies immune globulin (or RIG), contains preformed

antibodies to fight the virus and is given once. The other medication is rabies

vaccine, which ensures longer-lasting protection, and is given as five shots over

the course of a month. (Rabies shots are no longer given in the stomach.)

People who received the full series of rabies shots in the past need only two

rabies vaccine shots. To work best, the medications should begin as soon as

possible after the bite or scratch. However, if the animal has been caught and

will be tested for rabies, you can wait for the test results to see if the shots are

necessary.
What would I have to do if my dog, cat, or ferret is bitten

or exposed to rabies?

Depending on the circumstances of the exposure and whether the exposed cat,

dog, or ferret was currently vaccinated, it would likely have to be observed for

a specified period of time to be sure that it does not come down with rabies.

Vaccination is not 100% effective in preventing rabies in pets. Your local

animal control officer and your veterinarian will be able to assist you. In

addition, the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture, Bureau of

Animal Health is an excellent resource: (617) 626-1794.



“Rabies infection in a


person is usually the result of a

bite or scratch from a rabid animal.”


How can exposure to rabies be prevented?l cats, dogs and ferrets.

Unvaccinated domestic animals can be infected with rabies through contact

with rabid animals and could then transmit rabies to people. Vaccinations

must be kept current. The first vaccination a dog or cat receives is good for

only a year. The second vaccination is then good for one or three years,

depending on which vaccine is administered. Even if you consider your cat,

dog, or ferret an indoor pet, wild animals (especially bats) often get indoors,

or your pet could get outside when a door is opened. So, it is very important

to vaccinate ALL cats, dogs, and ferrets. In certain situations it is also

recommended to vaccinate livestock.



2. Avoid any contact with wild animals

Do not feed or touch wild animals. Do not try to rescue or help injured

animals or touch their babies. You are likely to get bitten and could be

exposed to rabies. Call Animal Control in your town for help.


Do not keep wild animals as pets. It is illegal in Massachusetts to keep wild

animals as pets. There are no injectable vaccines approved for use in wildlife.

Therefore, vaccination of individual wild animals is not considered safe or

effective.



3. Secure your yard and home.

Keep garbage cans covered with tight-fitting lids. Do not leave pet food

outdoors. Prevent animals from getting into your home by placing a cap

(screened cover) on your chimney, keep garage doors closed, and eliminate

places where animals can take up residence.

4. Avoid contact with stray animals.

Strays are more likely to come into contact with wildlife that could be

infected with rabies. They may bite or scratch you and may not be vaccinated

against rabies.



5. If you are bitten or possibly exposed to rabies:

Wash the wound thoroughly with lots of warm water and soap. Seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or local hospital emergency room.



How can exposure to rabies be prevented?

1. Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets.

2. Avoid any contact with wild animals.

3. Secure your yard and home.

4. Avoid contact with stray animals.

5. If you are bitten or exposed to rabies, wash the wound thoroughly with lots of

warm water & soap.
Introducing the Topic of Rabies to Students
Use this information to introduce the STAY AWAY FROM STRAYS program to

students. If you are not the students’ regular classroom teacher, briefly introduce yourself. Inform the students that you will be discussing an important problem: RABIES. Ask students to answer the following questions so that you may gauge their understanding of the disease. Provide additional information, as needed.


What is rabies?

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus (a germ so small you can’t see it).

Rabid mammals can be found almost anywhere in the world. It is a disease,

which makes mammals very sick. These animals will usually die, but before

they die they will often infect other mammals.
How do animals get rabies?

The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected mammals. When an infected

animal bites a healthy animal, the healthy animal may get rabies, too.
How do animals act when they have rabies?

Animals that have rabies may act differently than they would normally. They

may be more likely to attack or may look like they are sick or drunk. They do

not always drool or “foam at the mouth”. Animals that are usually out only at

night may be seen during the day. They may act aggressive or lose their fear of

humans. Sometimes, however, animals may look normal and still have rabies.


What are the most common animals that get rabies?

Mammals such as raccoons, skunks, bats, cats, woodchucks, foxes, and dogs

are the animals that are most commonly found to have rabies. These animals

can bite other animals, even a pet dog or cat, and make them sick. It is

important to protect our cats, dogs, and ferrets because if they are bitten and

get rabies, they could get very sick and die. And they could give rabies to us.

Livestock, such as cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, and goats can also get rabies if

bitten or exposed to a rabid animal. Pets like gerbils and hamsters do not

usually get rabies because they are kept in indoor cages. Squirrels, chipmunks,

other rodents, and rabbits rarely get rabies and reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds,

and insects never get rabies.
Can people get rabies?

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal that has rabies, you can get rabies,

too. But you can protect yourself if you wash the wound with lots of warm

water and soap, TELL AN ADULT, and see a doctor immediately.


How can we keep wild and stray animals away from our homes?

Keep garbage cans covered with tight fitting lids. Keep garage doors and shed

doors closed. Put a cap or cover on the fireplace chimney. Do not leave pet

food outside.


Why don’t wild animals make good pets?

Wild animals cannot be vaccinated against rabies and may bring the disease

into your home. They are also difficult to train and will naturally bite. It is

illegal to adopt a wild animal as a pet in Massachusetts.


How can we protect ourselves and our pets from rabies?

Make sure your cats, dogs, and ferrets have current rabies shots. Stay away

from wild animals and animals you do not know. Be extra careful on field trips

or whenever visiting an area where you may encounter wildlife or stray

animals.
Rabies Reminders

(Post these on your refrigerator)

1. Have your pets vaccinated against rabies.


  1. A rabies vaccination shot will help protect your dog, cat or ferret from rabies. Make sure your pets stay up to date on their vaccination shots.

2. Do not go near wild animals.

  1. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats and other wild animals may be infected with rabies and should not be touched.

3. Stay away from stray animals.

  1. Cats and dogs that roam outdoors are more likely to be infected with rabies and may bite you. Do not try to feed or pet them.




  1. Keep garbage cans tightly covered. Do not leave pet food outdoors. Cap chimneys and seal places where animals can get in and hide.




  1. If you are scratched or bitten by an animal…




    1. Wash the wound with lots of soap and water.

    2. TELL AN ADULT and have them call your doctor right away.



To report a wild or stray animal in your neighborhood,

call Animal Control at

(__ __ __) __ __ __ - __ __ __ __

Look up the number and write it here!

What should you do if...



Situation #1


You are walking through the woods with a friend and you come upon a young

fox. Your friend wants to take the fox home. What do you do?


Situation #2

One afternoon you are sitting in your yard, reading. You hear noise! It is a

raccoon, which has gotten into a trash can. What do you do?
Situation #3

Your cat came home with a bat in its mouth. What do you do?



Situation #4


Your little sister walks across the street to pet a stray cat which you have not

seen around before. What do you do?



Situation #5


You are on your way home from school when you see a dog that appears to

be gagging and choking. What do you do?



Situation #6


You are walking along with a group of friends. You reach out to pet a stray

dog and it bites you. What do you do?



Situation #7


You look out the back window and see a drunk-looking skunk, wandering

through your backyard. Its fur is straggly and it falls from time to time. What

do you do?

Situation #8


You are at a friend’s house and his dog comes in from wandering in the

woods. The dog is glad to see you and licks you both. You notice that the dog

has no collar or tags. When you ask, your friend tells you that his family taken

in a stray. What do you do?



Situation #9


You find a dead raccoon. You would like to examine it to find out why it died.

What do you do?


Situation #10

Your dog comes indoors and you discover that it has been in a fight and has

been bitten. What do you do?
What should you do if...(Teacher’s Sheet)

Situation #1


You are walking through the woods with a friend and you come upon a young

fox. Your friend wants to take the fox home. What do you do?


Stay away from the fox. Tell your friend not to touch it and explain why. Wild

animals may have rabies. It is also against the law to have wild animals as a

pet. Not only is it illegal, it is extremely unwise because wild animals remain

wild, even after extended captivity. They are unpredictable and their behaviors

are often destructive and dangerous.

Situation #2


One afternoon you are sitting in your yard, reading. You hear noise! It is a

raccoon, which has gotten into a trash can. What do you do?


Leave and tell an adult! Trying to remove the raccoon could put you in danger

of being bitten. Ignoring the animal is not a good idea either because if it is

diseased it could attack you, and if you are reading you might not notice the

animal approach until it is too late to escape. Once the raccoon is gone check

your trash cans and perhaps even place them in the garage or shed. Wear

gloves to pick up any trash. Be sure covers are on tightly and cannot be

removed by a raccoon.

Situation #3


Your cat comes home with a bat in its mouth. What do you do?
Avoid contact with the bat. Tell an adult. You should also avoid contact with

the cat in case it has bat saliva on it.

Situation #4


Your little sister walks across the street to pet a stray cat which you have not

seen around before. What do you do?


Tell her to stay away from this stray animal. You don’t know where it has been,

whether it has been bitten by another animal, whether it has been vaccinated

against rabies. This is no time to take chances!
She ignores your advice. What do you do? Tell an adult.

Situation #5


You are on your way home from school when you see a dog that appears to

be gagging and choking. What do you do?


Avoid the animal and tell an adult. It is dangerous to approach an animal that

is showing signs of distress.

Situation #6


You are walking along with a group of friends. You reach out to pet a stray

dog and it bites you. What do you do?


Tell an adult immediately. Wash the bite with warm, soapy water for 10

minutes and call or go to the doctor’s office. The doctor will tell you whether

you will need shots.

Situation #7


You look out the back window and see a drunk-looking skunk, wandering

through your backyard. Its fur is straggly and it falls from time to time. What

do you do?
Stay inside until the skunk is gone or has died. Do not approach the skunk,

even if you think it is dead. Keep your pets inside. Tell an adult. Have them

call your local animal control officer and let him/her know about the skunk and

its location.

Situation #8


You are at a friend’s house and his dog comes in from wandering in the

woods. The dog is glad to see you and licks you both. You notice that the dog

has no collar or tags. When you ask, your friend tells you that his family taken

in a stray. What do you do?



Wash the skin where you were licked with warm soap and water . Your friend’s


family should have brought the dog to a veterinarian when they took it in.

If this did not happen, have an adult call the Massachusetts Department of

Food and Wildlife's Bureau of Animal Health for advice: (617) 626-1794.

Situation #9


You find a freshly dead raccoon. You would like to examine it to find out why

it died. What do you do?


Don’t touch the animal. It may have died of rabies or it may have been carrying

the disease. Find an adult to bury the animal using gloves and a shovel to avoid

contact with the carcass. The adult may call the local Animal Control officer to

report the incident.

Situation #10


Your dog comes indoors and you discover that it has been in a fight and has

been bitten. What do you do?


Tell an adult. Have the adult call the veterinarian. Do not touch the dog’s

wound or let fluid from the wound come into contact with your skin.

Additional Activities



Build a Bulletin Board


Create a classroom or school display board on the topic of “Rabies Prevention.”

The display board(s) could be posted outside the classroom, in the library, or at

the school’s entrance. Students could cut pictures from magazines or

newspapers, write essays about their pets and the importance of rabies

prevention, list the most important steps to take to prevent rabies, etc. Current

events such as Rabies Vaccination Day (for pets) could also be posted.

Get information about where rabies has been reported from your local board

of health, from the internet (www.state.ma.us/dph), or from the Massachusetts

Department of Food and Wildlife's Bureau of Animal Health.

Identify Telephone Numbers for Your Community


Different people and agencies have different responsibilities related to wildlife

and to rabies. The local board of health or the Massachusetts Department of

Public Health, for example, deal with issues affecting human health. The local

Animal Control Officer, the Massachusetts Department of Food and Wildlife's

Bureau of Animal Health, and biologists from the Division of Fisheries and

Wildlife deal with wildlife issues and the health of wildlife. They are not

medical doctors and cannot give medical advice. The best person to advise on

your personal health is your personal physician. Find out what individuals or

groups in your community may be of service in dealing with sick raccoons or

other animals. Make up a list of phone numbers. If you can, make stickers with the relevant phone numbers for students to bring home.



Invite a Veterinarian or Visit an Animal Shelter


Invite a local veterinarian or Animal Control Officer to speak to your class about

rabies, how she/he deals with animals suspected of having rabies, how to

protect pets, and responsible pet care. Or, if possible, arrange a field trip to an

animal shelter so children can learn about pet care and animal health and

safety. Ask in advance to make sure that students will not be exposed to

animals with uncertain vaccination histories.


Put on a Skit

Create a classroom skit/play emphasizing how to protect oneself, one’s pets,

and one’s family from rabies. Include information about what children should

do if they have contact with wildlife or if they are bitten by an animal.



Health or Science Fair


Conduct or participate in a health or science fair. The theme of the fair or your

table could be “Animal Health and Rabies Prevention.” Alternately, students

could help out at the local Rabies Vaccination Day by setting up an information

booth and handing out information. Contact your local health department to

inquire about local Rabies Vaccination Days.

Has Your Pet Been Immunized?

Ask students to check at home to find out:


1. If they have a dog, cat, or ferret, ask has this pet been vaccinated? If so,

when was the pet vaccinated and when will a booster shot be needed?


2. If they do not have a dog, cat, or ferret, ask a neighbor or friend who has

one whether it has vaccinated? When is it due for a booster?



Hold a Poster Contest!


Rabies Review

Choose the best answer to the following questions below.
A. TRUE or FALSE (answer each question, true or false)

__________ 1. Rabies is a serious public health problem.

__________ 2. Stray cats and dogs may be infected with rabies.

__________ 3. The best way to protect your cat and dog from rabies is to make sure

it has a current rabies shot.

__________ 4. Even though a raccoon may act friendly, it should never be touched.

__________ 5. Wild animals do not make good pets.
B. VOCABULARY MATCHING (draw a line from the word to its definition)
STRAYS A disease that affects mammals

RABIES The most likely way of getting rabies

RACCOON Animals that live outdoors in the wild

WILDLIFE The most common animal with rabies in Massachusetts today

VIRUS A germ that causes a disease

BITE Pets that have lost their owner


C. MULTIPLE CHOICE (read the question and circle the best answer)
1. To help keep unwanted animals away from your home,

a. leave bowls of pet food on the deck.

b. keep garbage in tightly covered garbage cans.

c. none of the above.


2. If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, you should:

a. wash the wound with lots of soap and water. Tell an adult.

b. chase the animal.

c. do nothing.


3. Animals that most often get rabies are

a. raccoons, skunks, foxes, and birds.

b. raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats.

c. raccoons, chipmunks, and squirrels.


STAY AWAY FROM STRAYS

Rabies Review (Answer Sheet)


Part A: TRUE or FALSE

1. True


2. True

3. True


4. True

5. True
Part B: VOCABULARY MATCH


STRAYS Pets that have lost their owner

RABIES A disease that affects animals

RACCOON The most common animal with rabies today

WILDLIFE Animals that live outdoors in the wild

VIRUS A germ that causes a disease

BITE The most common way of getting rabies


Part C: MULTIPLE CHOICE
1. B

2. A


3. B
STAY AWAY FROM STRAYS
Rabies Vocabulary Words….
It is suggested that the teacher review the following terms and phrases with students. (Some words may be too advanced for children in lower grades):
RABIES A disease that affects the brain of animals, caused by a virus, and usually

spread by a bite


VIRUS One type of germ that causes disease – so small you can’t see it
EPIDEMIC A disease which is spreading rapidly
INFECTION When a germ enters the body of an animal or person and causes a disease
WILD ANIMAL Animals living outdoors in the wild that should not be kept as pets
MAMMAL A warm-blooded animal that is not a bird (as opposed to fish and reptiles which are cold-blooded animals)
STRAY ANIMAL A pet that has lost its owner or is allowed to roam outdoors uncontrolled
VACCINATE To give a shot to your cat, dog, or ferret to prevent it from getting rabies or other diseases
RABIES CLINIC A place where you can get your pet vaccinated against rabies
ANIMAL-PROOF Keeping things around your home such as garbage cans and chimneys covered to keep raccoons and other animals out, and not leaving pet food outdoors that might attract these animals
VETERINARIAN A doctor who takes care of animals
ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER A person who helps control rabies in your community. One way the Animal Control Officer helps is by capturing stray cats, dogs, and other animals that might have rabies.
LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT A group of people working in your community to help protect you from rabies and other diseases
STAY AWAY FROM STRAYS
For Rabies word search, maze, and “Where’s the Risk?” activity sheet, please see the PDF version of this document.

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