Facts about rabies

Rabies is a deadly virus. Rabies can be caught and carried by any warm-blooded mammal. In humans it can take as long as a year or more for any sign of rabies to appear. Because rabies is such a potentially destructive virus, it needs to be properly contained.

• Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system. It is sometimes called hydrophobia, which means fear of water, because infected mammals were once thought to simply have a fear of water.

• Rabid animals are often called “mad” because the symptoms of the disease in its advanced stages cause the mammals to appear to be in a rage. The word “rabies” comes from the Latin word “rabere” meaning to rage.

• There is no cure for any animal once it has caught rabies; however there is a post-exposure Rabies vaccine that can be given prior to developing the symptoms of rabies.

• Rabies is most often passed from animal to animal, or animal to human, through bites. Rabies mostly affects wild animals and domestic, tame animals. The rabies virus in the attacker’s saliva is passed through the puncture wound into the victim’s skin. The virus can also be transmitted by licking a sore or wound that has been exposed to saliva from an infected person or animal.

• Rabies causes more than seventy-thousand deaths each year around the world.

• New kinds of rabies are emerging in the United States and being carried by bats. This new type of rabies, when it infects humans, is impossible to treat.

• In humans it can take anywhere from nine days to a year for the symptoms of rabies to appear. Most people who develop rabies, however, begin to show signs of rabies within sixty days.

• Rabies travels from the bite to the nerves and travels from the nerves to the brain. The earliest symptoms of clinical rabies infection in humans are pain, tingling or numbness at the site of the bite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and feeling tired. Some sufferers show early signs of the virus infecting their brain and nervous system. They become agitated, fearful, and may be depressed.

• In a matter of days a person can become paralyzed, have spasms in the throat, see hallucinations, go into a coma, have heart problems and die.

Rabies is a serious problem when not prevented. If you own a dog, it is important for your pet to receive annual rabies vaccinations. A simple vaccination may be all that is needed to prevent your pet from succumbing to this terrible disease. Be sure that your pet has had his rabies vaccination, and if not make an appointment today. Many veterinarians offer free or low-cost options for rabies prevention.