Rabies is a deadly virus that affects the central nervous system. It is most commonly spread through the bite of an infected animal but can also be contracted through contact with saliva or nerve tissue from an infected animal. Rabies symptoms can take weeks or months to develop, so it is important to know how to tell if an animal has rabies and avoid contact with any potentially infected wildlife.
What Animals Carry Rabies
There are many different types of animals that can carry rabies, but some of the most common include bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. These animals are typically found in rural and suburban areas, so it is important to be aware of their presence and take appropriate precautions when encountering them. Bats are the most common carrier of rabies and seven of every 10 human rabies deaths are caused by bats. However, any mammal can become infected with and transmit rabies including cats, dogs and even humans.
If you see an animal displaying symptoms of rabies, keep your distance and call for assistance. Symptoms of rabies can include:
- Abnormal behavior, such as aggression, self-mutilation, and excessive vocalization
- Acting tamer than you would expect
- Frothing at the mouth, excessive drool or saliva
- Difficulty swallowing
- Inability to walk or stand or difficulty moving
- Biting at imaginary objects
- A bat lying on the ground
How to Prevent Rabies
There is no cure for rabies once a person has contracted it, so it is important to take steps to prevent exposure. Rabies vaccine is available for people at risk of exposure, and post-exposure treatment can help reduce the risk of rabies infection. Every year, 60,000 Americans get post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) or rabies vaccine after an encounter with a potentially infected animal. Rabies prevention tips include:
- Avoid contact with wild animals, especially those displaying symptoms of rabies
Vaccinate your pets against rabies
- Properly dispose of animal carcasses and make sure that your garbage cans are closed and secured
Rabies is a serious and fatal illness. If you see any wildlife displaying symptoms of rabies or even just have an issue with one of the common carriers of rabies, call Pee Dee Wildlife Control. Do not attempt to handle wild animals that could potentially carry rabies and keep pets away from common rabies carriers.