What is Rabies?
Do you ever wonder why you can’t have squirrels or other really cute looking wild rodents as pets? One of the answers is Rabies. Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system.  This Zoonotic disease is known for causing acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in mammals.  It is caused by the RNA virus, Lyssavirus , most commonly referred to as the Rabies Virus.

How do people get Rabies?
People get Rabies from infected mammals, most commonly bats. Rabies is transmitted most often through animal bites, although other contact with the saliva or brain tissue of an infected animal can cause the disease. It can also be spread by an unnoticeable bite from a bat with Rabies, even without an obvious wound.  There have currently been a few isolated cases of Rabies infection through skunk interactions in Colorado.

What are the signs and symptoms of Rabies?
The Rabies virus travels through the nervous system, eventually inflaming the brain. Early symptoms include:
·         Irritability
·         Headache
·         Fever
·         Itching or pain at the site of the bite
The disease progresses if untreated and is accompanied by the following signs:
·         Paralysis
·         Spasms of the throat muscles
·         Convulsions
·         Delirium

What is the treatment for Rabies?
As soon as a bite has been identified, it’s important to clean the wounded area to avoid infection.  A series of vaccinations after exposure can prevent the disease from worsening and spreading. Once symptoms appear, treatment is highly unlikely to be found and often leads to fatality.

How can Rabies be prevented?

  • Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals or stray dogs or cats.
  • Vaccinated pets serve as a buffer between rabid wildlife and humans, so be sure dogs and cats are up-to-date on their Rabies vaccinations. Consult with your veterinarian about when your pet needs to be vaccinated.
  • Do not allow pets to roam free.
  • Do not attract wild animals to your home or yard. Store bird seed or other animal feed in containers with tight-fitting lids. Feed pets indoors. Make sure garbage cans are tightly capped. Board up any openings to your attic, basement, porch or garage. Cap chimneys with screens.
  • Encourage children to immediately tell an adult if they are bitten or scratched by an animal. Teach children not to approach or to touch any animal they do not know.
  • Report all animal bites to the local animal control.

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