Just over two dozen animals tested positive for rabies in the state of Iowa last year. Iowa Department of Public Health Veterinarian Ann Garvey says it’s the lowest number in a decade. “In 2010, we had 27 animals test positive, primarily skunks and bats. They made up 23 of those 27, but we also saw rabies in a cat, a dog, a cow and a fox,” Garvey said.

Nearly 1,500 animals were tested last year and despite the dip in positive cases, Dr. Garvey says the disease is still very prevalent. She says the number of cases may shift depending on animal migration patterns, changes in animal populations and the number of specimens tested.

“So, it’s not unusual for us to see up and down years,” Garvey said. She’s encouraging Iowans to continue to get their pets and livestock vaccinated for rabies. Garvey is also discouraging people from handling stray or wild animals or trying to keep them as pets.

 “You can also do things like cover your garbage and keep pet food indoors to discourage wild animals from being attracted close to your home,” Garvey said.  The number of rabies cases in Iowa hit a high point in 2005, with 108 positive tests.

Find out more about rabies here: www.idph.state.ia.us/adper/rabies.asp