Rabies can be a deadly disease.
Luckily, outbreaks are not particularly common in the United States. However, the consequences can be severe if you are bitten by a rabid animal.
Types of Exposure
Rabies is spread among mammals, in a group of diseases called zoonotic disease, that animals can transmit to humans. Rabies is usually transmitted through saliva when an infected animal bites or
scratches you. Bats are one of the most well-known carriers of the rabies virus, but they are not the only mammals that can infect people. Others include skunks, cattle, coyotes, foxes, dogs, cats, ferrets and raccoons. Bites from infected dogs cause the majority of human deaths attributed to rabies. Because rabies is present in the animal’s saliva, you can also get rabies if the saliva comes in contact with a scratch or wound or with your mouth, lips, eyes or other mucous membranes. Rabies is not spread by touching or petting an infected animal or by coming in contact with its urine, feces or blood. If you are not sure if you should receive treatment, call your doctor or local health department for advice.
Rabies symptoms do not develop immediately after you are bitten. It may take one week to three months before you may notice any changes. Early symptoms include fever, pain and a burning or tingling feeling at the site of your wound. The virus eventually travels throughout your entire nervous system, causing inflammation of the spinal cord and brain. Rabies is rarely fatal if you receive treatment soon after exposure.
PREVENTING RABIES FROM GOING VIRAL
Rabies vaccines for pets are very effective in preventing the disease. Depending on your state, you may be required to vaccinate your pet every year or every three years. Avoid contact with wild animals
and be careful when handling the remains of dead wild animals. If you notice that animals that are normally nocturnal, such as skunks or raccoons, are active during the day, stay away from them and call your local animal control department.