Rabies is a viral, life-threatening disease that is spread by the saliva of infected animals and is typically transmitted through a bite. Rabies causes inflammation of the brain and is deadly because it compromises the brain’s ability to regulate necessary functions such as breathing and salivation. With a mortality rate of 99.9% if left untreated, rabies is one of the deadliest diseases.
Here in the United States, common rabies vectors include bats, racoons, foxes, and skunks. Most rabies infections (more than 50% of cases) acquired in the US can be attributed to bats. Although uncommon, cats and dogs can also contract and transmit the virus.
A bite, scratch, entrance through an open wound, or contact with a mucous membrane such as the eyes, nose, or mouth all constitute exposures. Non-bite exposures to rabies are considered rare. Petting a rabid animal or coming into contact with a rabid animal’s blood, urine, or feces is not considered an exposure. Despite that fact, it is still recommended you stay clear of any animal you suspect to be rabid. If you have been exposed, do not wait to seek medical attention. You should consult with your medical provider immediately.
You can prevent or limit your exposure to rabies by ensuring your pets are vaccinated, avoiding approaching wild animals, getting vaccinated before traveling to countries where rabies is common, and washing any animal bites or scratches thoroughly with soap and water.
Call – 419-626-5623 – Ask for Environmental Health with any questions.