Basic Facts About Rabies

Rabies rarely results in human fatalities, but it persists to be a potentially public health problem worldwide. In the US alone, more than 20,000 Americans have to experience rabies treatments every year as a result of exposure to potentially rabid creatures. Foxes, Raccoons, Skunks and Bats are the major wild hosts in the USA, though domestic cats and dogs are also origins of exposure.

Rabies is caused by a virus. It's spread via the saliva of an infected animal and in no other method. All warm-blooded animals can disperse rabies. Rabid animals can infect other animals by biting them. This entails

that your dog won't get rabies unless he is in fact bitten by a rabid animal, or infected by the animal's saliva through an open wound.

Rabies also can be conveyed from animals to man from a bite by a rabid animal. The wound is infected with the virus contained in the saliva of the infected animal. The incubation period ranges from ten days to a few months, depending on the position of the bite and how long the virus takes to reach the brain.

There are two types of rabies: furious and dumb. In the former the first symptom is generally a noticeable change in the dog's behavior, that is, from friendly to snappy and offish. The infected dog might become restless and wind off to hide in dark nooks. His voice could undergo a change in pitch or he might howl. He grows irritable. Typically, he wanders far a field and eagerly assaults anything in his path, including people and other animals. Loud noises or bright lights could induce biting seizures. Finally, the disease develops into the


paralytic stage. His throat muscles become too paralyzed that he can't swallow and he drools profusely. It is on this period that he seems to be frothing at the mouth. His legs and body become increasingly paralyzed. There is a lack of coordination, then crash, and ultimately coma and death. Sadly, there is no cure for rabies.

When your dog shows any of these symptoms, or if you know he has been bitten by a strange dog, you should handle him using all possible care. Throw a blanket over him (to keep him from biting you when he's grown snappy), gather him up, and shut him out in a room. Then call your vet immediately. If you are bitten, consult your doctor at once and follow his advice.

Several communities today are encouraging owners to have their dogs immunized by sponsoring rabies-control programs, while some have made vaccination mandatory. This cannot eradicate the disease. Vaccination can reach only a few of the dogs in any community. Responsible owners look after their dogs, but right in the very same town or city live irresponsible owners who allow their dogs run the streets and who'd disown them instead of paying license and vaccination fees.

The free-roaming dog is the major source of infection. To help eliminate rabies, fence your yard and exercise your pet only under control. And encourage your neighbor to control his dog as well. Licensing and vaccination don't grant a dog to run free; any wandering dog can still be a neighborhood nuisance.



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