Rabies – What is it?
Rabies is a disease caused by the rabies virus that can be transmitted from animals to humans. It can affect the brain and spinal cord of everything and everyone that becomes infected. The rabies virus is responsible for the deaths of more than 500,000 humans and millions of animals each year; when symptoms appear, death soon follows. The disease has been found everywhere except Hawaii, Antartica, and Alaska. Bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, cats and dogs are the most common carriers of the virus.
The virus is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals and generally enters the body through a wound, however it can not penetrate through intact skin.
The typical incubation period for rabies is 1-3 months but can vary from 1 week to 1 year. The initial symptoms of rabies are fever with pain and unusual or unexplained tingling, pricking, or burning sensation at the wound site. As the virus continues to spread through the central nervous system, progressive and fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord develops.
There are two forms of the disease: furious and paralytic.
- Symptoms of furious rabies: hyperactivity, excitable behavior, hydrophobia, and aerophobia, or fear of drafts or fresh air. Death occurs due to cardio-respiratory arrest.
- Symptoms of paralytic rabies: gradual paralyzation in the muscles starting at the site of the scratch or bite. A coma will occur and death will follow. Paralytic rabies is often misdiagnosed.
Rabies is 100% preventable with a rabies vaccination. By vaccinating your dog you are preventing the spread of rabies to humans and other mammals. These vaccinations are extremely cost effective and reduce the deaths attributable to rabies. Talk to your veterinarian about getting your dog vaccinated today!