FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT)- They might be cute and seem harmless, but Animal Care and Control and the Allen County Department of Health are warning against picking up wild animals.
With warmer weather, many people rescue baby raccoons, birds, and even bats, and try to nurse them back to health. However, there's a risk many people don't consider-- rabies.
"You should never ever touch a wild animal, especially if you think it's sick or injured, even if it is a baby animal, and sometimes, we know that they are really really cute, you don't want to touch them because there is a risk of contracting rabies," said Holly Pasquinelli, community relations and education specialist at Animal Care and Control.
While it's not as common, rabies can also affect domesticated animals. That's why you should also call Animal Care and Control if you find a stray cat or dog.
"If you aren't familiar with a dog or cat, it's always a good idea to not interact with that animal, because there is a chance that its owners never had it vaccinated for rabies and it came across it, or it never had owners," Pasquinelli said.
Erika Pitcher, with the Allen County Department of Health, said Indiana hasn't seen a case of rabies in a human in about 10 years, but an animal doesn't have to bite you to become infected.
"Rabies is transmitted through saliva and contact with brain tissue... We always ask if you have any wounds of unknown origin on your body after you've been around an animal," Pitcher said.
There is a line of shots you can get if there's a chance you were infected, but they don't come cheap.
"The whole series could be close to $30,000 without insurance," Pitcher said.
You're urged to get the shots if there's any chance you came into contact with an infected animal, even if it's a bat that came into your home while you were sleeping, but the best way to avoid the cost and the risk is to leave those wild animals alone.
"I know you think you're doing a good job by harboring them, but call the professionals to come in and save those animals so you don't put yourself at unnecessary risk," Pitcher said.
If you need to report a wild animal finding, you can contact Animal Care and Control at 260-427-1244.