The following was taken from "Quick Facts about Foreign and Endemic Animal Diseases". This publication may be found at http://agrilifebookstore.org or on our website at http://aevm.tamu.edu under Publications
What is Rabies?
Rabies, caused by a virus, affects the central nervous system of warm-blooded animals. It is sometimes referred to as hydrophobia. Rabies is considered to be a disease of over-populated wild animal species.
Is the disease a foreign or emerging/endemic disease?
Rabies is endemic to the
What animals are affected?
Rabies can affect any warm-blooded animal and it is fatal if untreated. Species most commonly affected are skunks, bats, coyotes and foxes. Skunks shed more rabies virus in their saliva than any other species.
How is it transmitted?
The rabies virus is transmitted in the saliva and blood of infected animals. When an infected animal bites or scratches another animal and saliva is deposited on the wound, the virus enters the body and migrates to the brain by traveling up the peripheral nerves.
What is the incubation period of the disease?
The incubation period varies from 3 weeks to 7 months, depending on the species of the animal, the virulence of the strain of the virus, the age of the victim, and the site of the wound.
What are the symptoms?
The best-known symptom is excessive salivation. Other symptoms are:
- Ataxia (failure of muscle coordination)
- Altered temperament
Once an animal exhibits symptoms, death usually occurs within 3 to 10 days.
Can people be infected?
Yes. Transmission may occur if an infected animal scratches or bites a person. People who have been bitten by or had contact with a rabid animal should contact a physician to determine if post-exposure prophylactic measures are required.
Is there a vaccine available?
Yes. Animals should be routinely vaccinated to build immunity against the virus.
Is this disease preventable?
Yes. The most effective preventive measure is vaccination. People should not adopt wild animals or allow bats to take up residence in areas where there are people or domestic animals.
Is this a reportable disease?
Yes. It should be reported immediately to state public health officials. Is an animal is suspected of having rabies (i.e., it bites somebody) it should be quarantined for 10 days. Domestic animals that have been in contact with a rabid animal should be destroyed immediately or, if they have been vaccinated, quarantined for 45 to 90 days.
Who should be contacted if rabies is suspected?
Immediately contact a private veterinarian or the state animal health department. Rabies can not be diagnosed in live animals. The head and brain of the animal must be tested.