Let’s Talk About Rabies
Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.
Rabies is a 100% vaccine-preventable disease. However, despite the availability of tools to manage the disease, rabies prevails to cause tens of thousands of deaths every year. The disease disproportionately affects poor, low-resource communities, particularly children with 4 out of every 10 human deaths by rabies occurring in children younger than 15 years.
What Does the Rabies Virus Do to You?
The first symptoms can be similar to the flu: general weakness or discomfort, fever and headache. You may also experience soreness, burning or itching around the source of infection; you know, the gaping animal wound on your arm. The WHO (World Health Organization) says that the incubation period can be as short as under a week or longer than one year, but it typically one to three months.
After that time, symptoms will progress to cerebral dysfunction as it begins to eat away at your brain. This is experienced through a variety of things such as anxiety, confusion, agitation, and then progressing to delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, and insomnia.
How Do You Get It?
Most people believe that you can only get the rabies virus through an animal bite, but this is not quite true. The virus is retained in the animal’s salivary glands. You get it through saliva transmission to your blood or mucus membranes or by swallowing infected saliva. Bats are, by far, the most common source of the disease in North and South America. In Asia and Africa, dogs cause most infections. Rabies can also be spread by other wild carnivores like racoons, weasels, foxes, skunks and the like.
How Is It Treated?
Rabies is 100 percent preventable by vaccine, for both your dog and you. If you do contract the disease and reach the point where symptoms exhibit themselves, it’s virtually certain that you or your dog will die.
Fortunately, a potent administration of the vaccine immediately following potential exposure and before symptoms appear can stop the disease in its tracks. If you believe you may have been exposed, it’s vital to seek medical attention immediately.
It’s also recommended that you immediately and thoroughly flush and wash any animal bite with soap and water for at least 15 minutes. Iodine and anything else that may kill the virus can also help during that period.
What You Can Do
The easiest way to stopping rabies is to act before it becomes a problem. If you have a pet, take him to your vet and get the rabies vaccination. Falls Road Veterinary Hospital will give your pet a wellness exam along with the necessary vaccinations to help prolong its life.
Give us a call at 301-983-8400 or fill out our contact form.