The Rabies infection affects the central nervous system of humans and animals, and is caused by a virus that is transmitted from bite wounds, scratches, or tissue from an infected animal. Since it is almost always fatal if not treated before the symptoms start to appear, it is paramount to point out the ways this nasty infection can be prevented.
“Bats are the most common carriers of rabies in the United States,” said Dr. Stacy Eckman, lecturer at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
“It is important to always avoid any contact with them. If you have come into contact with a bat, inform animal control officers in your area so they can submit the bat for testing, if possible, and contact your doctor.”
The Symptoms and Prevention
Dr. Eckman warns that “Symptoms include fever, lethargy, seizures, and ultimately paralysis, which can include paralysis of the muscles that control swallowing, leading to a ‘fear of water’ or ‘hydrophobia’ that is often described with rabies. Behavior changes leading to abnormally aggressive behavior may also occur.”
Though there are treatments that can be given after a bite and before symptoms begin, prevention is always said to be the best treatment. Steer clear of unknown or aggressive animals, avoid contact with stray dogs, bats, or any wild animals. If required, preventative rabies vaccinations are also recommended, depending on the situation.
“Vaccination can greatly reduce the risk of infection for people who have a high risk of exposure, such as those who work with animals, including veterinarians. Companion animals and farm animals should be appropriately vaccinated by a veterinarian,” Dr. Eckman suggests.