Rabies, also known as hydrophobia, is a viral disease transmittable to humans. The disease may attack humans, domestic pets and wild animal species. All warm-blooded animals can transmit the virus, signs and symptoms of the virus are not seen until the virus reaches the brain. Rabies is fatal once the virus reaches the brain, therefore, early treatment is very important.
There are several routes of transmission of the rabies virus. first and most common is by an animal bite. Other routes involve saliva contact, either an open wound or mucous membranes, such as membranes of the nose and eyes.
NC law requires all animal bites to humans be reported to Animal Services. The rabies vaccination status of the animal will be verified and the animal (domestic) will be placed under 10-day rabies observation quarantine.
- Never approach or attempt to handle any friendly, injured or sick wild animals
- Never approach or attempt to handle any injured or sick domestic animals
- Report strange acting animals to Animal Services
- Never attempt to pet animals you do not know
- Never handle dead animals, if you come in contact with a dead animal, thouroughly wash contacted areas and consult your physician
- Do not release any animal in a trap or cage
Rabies: the Facts
A rabid animal does not typically “foam at the mouth” as often assumed, but it may tend to drool. There are several strains of the virus AIW with at least two manifestations of Rabies: “DUMB” ( Paralytic ) and “FURIOUS” ( Mad ). Animals can exhibit the symptoms of both forms as the disease progresses.
FOLLOWING ARE SOME SIGNS TO BE AWARE OF:
- Animals may display unusual behavior, such as nocturnal animal may wander around in the daylight, or they may exhibit a marked personality change.
- An animal may be lethargic and poorly coordinated.
- An animal may refuse food, water, or act as if something is lodged in the throat.
- An animal may be hypersensitive to light or noise, or become overexcited or aggressive. This is the “biting” stage.
- An animal may become comatose, then die.
- Infant mammals can be born harboring the rabies virus.
EVEN IF THE THREAT OF RABIES DOES NOT SEEM LIKELY IN YOUR AREA, HERE ARE SOME PRECAUTIONS TO CONSIDER:
- Never hand-feed a wild animal, no matter how cute, friendly, or tame it appears.
- Do not leave food or uncovered “garbage” outside.
- Consider removing feeders – certainly those that might attract wild mammals.
- Do not leave pet food and water dishes outside. If an infected wild animal uses these, dishes, his saliva will surely be left behind.
- Have your dogs and cats vaccinated and keep the vaccination current.
REMEMBER: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE BITTEN TO CONTRACT THE VIRUS
The virus is shed through saliva. If some of an infected animal’s saliva gets on a cut or scratch or into mucous membranes such as the nose or eyes, you could become infected.
DON’T PANIC: IF YOU HAVE CONTACT WITH AN ANIMAL, WILD OR DOMESTIC, AND FEEL IT MIGHT BE RABID, HERE ARE SOME RECOMMENDATIONS:
- Remain calm.
- Immediately wash the bite with soapy water for a full 10 minutes and flush with alcohol.
- Contact your physician and animal control. Report the episode, giving a full description of the animal, including all markings, and describe the animal’s behavior prior to the attack.
- Capture and isolate the animal if possible, but take no risks.
- Keep everyone away from the animal, including household pets.
- If the animal must be shot, do not shoot it in the head.(the brain is the area tested for the virus).
THERE IS NO CURE FOR RABIES, BUT THERE ARE POST EXPOSURE PREVENTATIVE MEASURES. SEEK ADVICE FROM YOUR PHYSICIAN AND ANIMAL CONTROL AGENCY.