We heard so many different things about rabies that it is hard to separate myth from facts. When puppies receive their vaccinations, one of the shots in the series is a rabies vaccination.
People that live in rural areas often worry about their pets being bitten by a wild animal because that animal may have be infected.
The first thing most people worry about when they are bitten by an animal is if that animal has rabies. If possible, the animals will be captured and tested.
Let’s start out with, what is rabies?
It is a viral disease that can be carried by any mammal. It is normally transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal, that is, an animal carrying the virus.
The virus is typically spread through the saliva of an animal that bites and breaks the skin. The virus attacks the central nervous system of its host causing several different problems.
In animals, the virus can cause them to become combative and highly aggressive. In animals and humans both, extreme muscle soreness and pain sets in, especially in the muscles associated with swallowing. This can cause extreme thirst in both humans and animals. Symptoms of animals will usually develop within 20 to 60 days after contracting the disease. Death generally occurs a few days after symptoms appear, usually from respiratory failure.
Humans can carry the virus for around 25 to 50 days before symptoms show. People will typically suffer from headaches, extreme fatigue, muscle weakness, and fevers. Once symptoms begin showing, it only takes a week or so before serious nervous system damage sets in. Once in that stage, it is likely a person with rabies will die. They generally die either from respiratory failure or cardiac arrest. If properly treated, rabies is rarely fatal. Treatment needs to begin before the symptoms set in.
Although there is no reason to spread fear and panic by thinking all wild animals carry rabies, due caution needs to be used. Personally, I do not feed the squirrels because I do not want to make them dependent on people food and I do not want to get bit. I am not very worried about contracting rabies from them.
However, because of the deadly nature of rabies, you should seek immediate medical attention if bitten. Wash the wound with water and soap and head straight for your doctor or local emergency room.
For wild animals, if possible have animal control capture the animal so that they can be tested for rabies. For domestic animals, still, have animal control get involved and confirm the animal’s health. Typically, domestic animals account for about ten per cent of rabies cases. Those animals are usually dogs, cats, and cows.
Rabies is a very serious disease and you should vaccinate your pets against it and protect yourself by using caution when around wild or unfamiliar animals. However, there is no need for all-out panic and concern. Enjoy life and enjoy our furry friends too.