Remember Pocahontas’ cute little raccoon buddy, Meeko? He was always just chillin/being a good friend….but ARE raccoons actually good friends? Pocahontas, Pocahontas, didn’t anyone tell you raccoons can spread rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted to mammals through rabid animals. Some animals become reservoirs (kind of like wireless hotspots) for the disease, such as racoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, and some species of bats. These animals can spread it to other animals, such as cats and dogs.
When an animal is bitten by an infected animal, the rabies virus travels from the site of the bite to the brain by moving within the nerves. When animals are first bitten, they do not seem ill, and the incubation period, which is the time between the bite and the appearance of symptoms, may last for weeks, months or YEARS. When the virus multiplies in the brain and spreads to the salivary glands, the first symptoms often show.
Every ten minutes, someone around the world dies from rabies.
Most often, people get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal, but it is also possible to get rabies if the saliva of an infected animal gets into their nose, eyes, mouth or a wound.
At first, the symptoms are similar to those of the flu. The person might suffer from a fever and a headache. However, as it progresses, the person may start having hallucinations, insomnia, and abnormal behavior. According to the CDC, “Once a person begins to exhibit signs of the disease, survival is rare. “
How to Prevent RABIES
1. Keep your dogs, cats, and ferrets up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.
2. Call animal control to get those stray, potentially rabid animals out of your neighborhood.
If You’re Bitten by an Animal
1.Wash the wound with soap and water. This decreases the chances for infection.
2. Call a doctor. The doctor will decide whether you need a rabies vaccination. The vaccination, called postexposure prophylaxis (PEP), will be determined by the animal, the type of the exposure, and the geographic area it occurred.
Public Health Matters had a recent post that discussed how humans overlook some animals as being possible carriers of rabies. People often think of stray cats and dogs when it comes to rabies, but even zebras can be culprits! In the case presented in the blog, it was a baby zebra named Zoe. Zoe had come in contact with over 200 visitors to the Kenyan safari lodge before being diagnosed with rabies. It was up to the CDC and other organizations to track those people. According to the blog, Zoe “would nibble on her admirer’s fingers and lick them as they offered treats.” After reading this post, you know that, duh, the rabies virus is transmitted through saliva, so maybe you should hold off on cuddling exotic (or non-exotic) animals.
Feeling kinda wild? Check out this Wild Dawn/Wild Dusk Playlist featuring some musica by First Aid Kit and Fleet Foxes.
By HOSNA SAFI