Rabies is a painful and deadly disease which occurs in more than 150 countries and territories. Each year, more than 55,000 people around the world die from rabies, mostly in Asia and Africa. Fortunately for those living in the United States, deaths from rabies are rare due to the vast availability of vaccines and rabies immune globulin (a blood product containing antibodies to the rabies virus).
What is the Rabies Virus and how is it Contracted?
Rabies is caused by a virus that invades the central nervous system and interrupts its functioning. The rabies virus is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals. People can become infected by being bitten as well as through an opening in their skin, or if saliva gets into their eyes, nose, or mouth. It is not possible to contract rabies through an infected animals blood, urine, or feces, or by touching or petting it.
What are the Symptoms of Rabies?
In the very beginning, you will feel flu-like symptoms including a headache, fever, and general discomfort. In just a few days, your symptoms will begin including anxiety, confusion, delirium, hallucinations, agitation, and abnormal behavior. If you are ever bitten, scratched, or exposed to a rabid animal’s saliva, you should see a physician immediately for post exposure treatment, as the rabies disease is almost always fatal.
What Animals Commonly Get Infected with Rabies?
Wild animals made up 92% of the rabies cases reported in 2015 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bats were the most commonly reported rabid wildlife species, followed by raccoons, skunks, and foxes. While not frequently found in rodents, squirrels, and rabbits, it is possible for any mammal to become infected with rabies.
What Should You Do If You Become Bitten by a Wild Animal?
There are three things you should do if a wild animal bites you:
- Clean the area immediately for at least 5 minutes using soap and water.
- See a physician as soon as possible, ideally within 24-48 hours.
- Notify your state or local health department reporting what happened.
Prevention is Key
Never touch an unfamiliar animal whether domestic or wild as either can be infected. To keep potentially rabid animals out of your home, seal openings such as your attic, basement, porch, and chimney to help prevent wild animals from entering. To learn how we can help keep infected animals out of your home, contact Critter Control at 305-258-3587 and maintain you and your family’s safety.