But this doesn't mean you shouldn't take precautions to protect yourself, your family and your pets. The best ways to guard against rabies:.
Rabies Lyssavirus is an infectious disease that affects the central nervous system in mammals. It's transmitted through the saliva a few days before death when the animal "sheds" the virus. Rabies is not transmitted through the blood, urine or feces of an infected animal, nor is it spread airborne through the open environment.
Because it affects the nervous system, most rabid animals behave abnormally.
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In the "furious" form, wild animals may appear to be agitated, bite or snap at imaginary and real objects and drool excessively. In the "dumb" form, wild animals may appear tame and seem to have no fear of humans.
There are other signs, such as the animal appearing drunk or excessively wobbly, circling, seeming partially paralyzed, acting disorientated or mutilating itself. However, most of these signs can also be indicative of other diseases like distemper or lead poisoning. There are few behavioral signs that are telltale of rabies alone.
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If a typically nocturnal animal, such as a raccoon or skunk , is active during the day and exhibiting abnormal behavior, you should seek advice from your local animal control, animal organization, wildlife rehabilitator or state wildlife agency. Any warm-blooded mammal can carry or contract rabies, but the primary carriers in North America are raccoons , skunks , bats , foxes and coyotes.
Thanks to an increase in pet vaccinations, wildlife now account for more than 90 percent of all reported rabies cases. Rabies tends to be more common in different species in different places, but is certainly not limited to these trends:. Federal and state wildlife officials have been vaccinating wildlife in many regions over the past two decades.
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They distribute vaccine-laden baits that the target animals eat and thereby vaccinate themselves. Right now, oral rabies vaccination of wildlife focuses on halting the spread of specific types of rabies in targeted carrier species.
It's hoped that this tool can also shrink the disease's range. Given all the media attention that rabies receives, it may be somewhat surprising to learn that very few people die from rabies nationwide each year.
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People who contracted rabies in the United States were mostly infected by a bat. Some may have been sleeping when bitten. Less than one-half of one percent of all bats in North America carries rabies. Although raccoons suffer from rabies more than any other mammal in the United States about 35 percent of all animal rabies cases , only one human death from the raccoon strain of rabies has been recorded in the United States. Despite the long odds of contracting rabies, the remote possibility of infection exists and should not be taken lightly:.
Since its launch in , World Rabies Day has helped educate over million people and vaccinated millions of dogs through events in countries. Globally, World Rabies Day is important because most deaths from rabies occur in countries with inadequate public health resources and limited access to preventive treatment. Since , the World Health Organization has recommended vaccination—rather than removal—of free-roaming dogs to control rabies.
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Facts and safety guidelines clear up misconceptions. Vaccinate your pets. Get prompt post-exposure treatment when advised to do so by a doctor or health department. What is rabies? The agency's explanation for the seizure and killing of the wildlife is unjustified. Thirty-nine opossums were killed including the one who served as an education animal.
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