Rabies is a serious, fatal virus that can infect any warm-blooded animal, including humans. Annually, 55,000 people are infected worldwide. While there is no cure and the disease is almost always fatal, it is preventable through good animal vaccination and control practices and enhanced medical access for those who are exposed.
- Vaccinate your pets and keep inoculations up-to-date.
- Don’t keep wild or exotic pets that cannot be vaccinated with the rabies vaccine.
- Spay/neuter your pets to avoid transfer of diseases from pets who may not be vaccinated.
- Animal proof your trash. Keep garbage stored with secured lids to avoid attracting wild animals to your house and potentially biting your pet or your family.
- Never handle and avoid contact with live and deceased wild animals.
- Keep your pets within sight when they are outdoors and never allow them to roam freely.
- If you spot a stray animal in your neighborhood or a wild animal acting strangely, call local animal or wildlife control services to remove it.
- Avoid wild animals and if bitten, immediately seek medical care.
KNOW THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF RABIES
- Once an animal is infected and exhibits clinical symptoms they usually succumb to the disease within 5 days.
- Signs of an infected animal:
- Early signs include behavioral changes; the animal may appear anxious, aggressive or more friendly than normal.
- As the disease progresses, symptoms may include hypersensitivity to light and sound, seizures may occur and animals may become extremely vicious.
- The final stage of rabies is hallmarked by paralysis symptoms of the head and throat - the animal will hyper salivate and lose the ability to swallow. As the paralysis progresses, the animal eventually goes into respiratory failure and dies.
- People are infected with rabies when they are bitten by an animal that is sick with the disease.
- The disease is transmitted by saliva or infected brain/nervous system tissue.
- There is no diagnostic test for rabies prior to the presentation of clinical symptoms.
- Signs of a rabies infection:
- Early symptoms of rabies can include fever, headache, vomiting and weakness, often resembling the flu.
- As the disease progresses, more serious symptoms present and may include any of the following: discomfort or a prickling or itching sensation at the site of bite, symptoms of cerebral dysfunction such as anxiety, confusion, agitation, hydrophobia and aerophobia.
- In the final stages of the disease the person may experience delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, hyper salivation and paralysis.
IF YOU SUSPECT A RABIES INFECTION:
- If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, bring them to the vet immediately.
- If your animal begins to act strangely, confused, seemingly nervous/anxious, disoriented, or uncoordinated, take them into the veterinarian immediately.
- If you are bitten, wash the wound thoroughly and discuss with your doctor the options and the need for post exposure prophylaxis treatment.
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