We mostly think of rabies as a wild, feral disease that we won’t every encounter in animals around our homes. Hopefully, this turns out to be the case for you, but it’s important to know what to look for. Whether you live in the middle of a city, a suburban neighborhood or on a rural farm, you may come across a rabid critter. Rabies is a viral infection that only affects mammals and is transmitted through saliva. This can enter the body through a cut or a bite from the infected animal. Infected animals can be very dangerous to both your family and your pets and such a situation should be handled with extreme caution.
Any mammal can have rabies, but the most common carriers are raccoons, bats, foxes, dogs, cats and skunks. One of the easiest ways to tell an animal has rabies is if you observe strange behavior. This can come in many different forms. Some infected animals may act very aggressive or skittish, while others may seem unusually lethargic and struggle to move. Rabies causes an excess of saliva, which results in heavy drooling; another sign of rabies. Some of these common carriers of rabies, such as raccoons and bats, are nocturnal.
However, the disorientation of rabies can cause these animals to come out during the day time. If you see an animal that you know to be nocturnal out during the day, that’s a good indicator it might be rapid and you should stay far away. While these are some helpful tips for detecting rabies in an animal, there is no fool proof way of knowing without a rabies test, so the best practice is to keep your distance.
As a general rule, you should never approach wild animals. Not only could they be carrying rabies, they may also be naturally aggressive. If you are bitten by a wild animal, regardless of whether or not you suspect it is rabid, you should see a doctor immediately.
If you encounter a potentially rapid animal but are not bitten, it is still a good idea to seek medical attention as rabies can occasionally be transmitted through the air via saliva particles. It’s also a good idea to contact animal control anytime you see an oddly-behaving wild animal around your home.
Another important way to protect against rabies is by having your pets regularly vaccinated. They are at most risk if they live outdoors and are exposed to wild animals. If they are vulnerable to rabies and not properly vaccinated, they are also a threat to you and your family. Rabies treatment is extremely effective when utilized early and properly. However, if you don’t take action quickly and wait until symptoms occur, treatment is not very effective and the disease will most likely be fatal.