On September 28, we recognize World Rabies Day which looks to bring further awareness to the deadly rabies disease which is caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. This virus is secreted in saliva and typically transmitted to people and animals through the bite of an infected animal. Another less common way for rabies to be transmitted is when saliva from an infected animal comes in contact with an open cut on the skin, eyes, mouth, or nose of a person or animals. It is very important to understand what rabies is and how it can affect you and your pet.
Which Animals Actually Get Rabies
One of the first things to keep in mind is that only mammals can get rabies, so birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians cannot. Here in the United States, most of the rabies cases occur with wild animals like skunks, raccoons, bats, foxes, etc. Recently, however, cats have become the most common domestic animals infected with rabies. The reason for this is that many cat owners do not vaccinate their pets and then they are exposed to rabid wildlife either outdoors or indoors in the event a bat enters the house. Rabies can also occur in dogs in significant numbers and while it may not be as common, horses, goats, sheep, swine, and ferrets can also be diagnosed with rabies.
What Are The Common Signs of Rabies in Animals?
So, what are the common signs an animal may be infected with rabies? Once the virus enters the body, it travels along the nerves up to the brain. At that point, a variety of signs will show that indicate the presence of rabies such as fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, paralysis, and seizures. Aggressive behavior is one of the more common signs, however, rabid animals may also become uncharacteristically affectionate. Horses and livestock who have been infected with rabies may also display depression, self-mutilation, or an increased sensitivity to light. You may also notice rabid animals losing their natural fear of humans and display unusual behavior, like wandering in the daytime when they are typically seen exclusively at night.
How To Help Control Rabies
If you are interested in how to control rabies, keep in mind that one of the main things you can do to prevent it is through vaccination. You should also reduce the possibility of exposure to rabies by making sure your pets do not roam freely. Either keep them inside or make sure they are supervised when outside. Another tip is to not leave exposed garbage or pet food outside as that can attract wild or stray animals. In regards to wild animals, if you have to see one that appears to be acting strangely, be sure to report it to the city or county animal control department. Also, be sure to bat-proof your home and any other structure to prevent bats from getting in and nesting. Bats have been known to be one of the main carriers of rabies in North America.
If you have any additional questions or concerns as it pertains to rabies and your pet, feel free to give Cherrelyn Animal Hospital today at (303) 532-1258!