Rabies

Sick Dog

Rabies is a deadly virus transmitted by a bite from an infected animal. Rabies is rare in the United States thanks to the program of vaccination.

However, if you have been bitten by a stray dog, cat or wild animal such as a raccoon, skunk, fox or bat, go to an emergency unit immediately. Rabies, if treated before an infection develops, can be treated. In any case an animal bite should be checked by a doctor as other infections can develop.

After being bitten, the virus spreads into muscle and finds its way to the brain via nerves. Once there is brain involvement, almost all cases are fatal.

The initial signs of rabies are a tingling in the bite area, usually with fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of appetite and nausea.

Later stage signs are confusion, irritability, aggressiveness, hallucinations or bizarre thoughts, sensitivity to light or touch, difficulty speaking, double vision, what appears to be foaming at the mouth caused by an increase in the amount of saliva.

If you or someone you know is bitten, take the following steps.

Wash the area bitten with soap and water for about 10 minutes. Then cover the area with a clean bandage.

Go immediately to emergency services, explain the situation. They are able to treat the bite.

Call animal control to inform them of the bite, giving them information on the type of animal and the location where the bite occurred. They may be able to find the animal and hold it for observation.

If the animal is a pet, ask the owner for information including name and address and if the animal has been vaccinated.

Treatment at emergency services can include a tetanus shot if yours is not current. The doctor will determine whether to begin rabies treatment depending on the information you supply.

You can help reduce the chance of rabies by vaccinating your dog, cat and ferret – Besides, it’s the LAW. Even though the incidence of rabies is down, there is always the risk out there.

Contact your doctor if your child is too young to give you any information, if any of you have been exposed to animals who are potentially rabid, if you are traveling to out of the way places. If you go walking or hiking or camping out, you also might want to check about what precautions to take.

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