Rabies is an acute viral disease that attacks the central nervous system of its victim.
Rabies is sometimes called hydrophobia, meaning fear of water. It has affected animals and humans since ancient times. Because of how long the virus has been around no one knows exactly how it got started.
Rabies is most often passed from animal to animal, animal to human or human to human, through bites. The virus can also be passed when the saliva, nerve tissue or brain tissue of an infected animal or human gets into open wounds or breaks in the skin, into the eyes, or into the mucus membranes in the nose or mouth. The wet saliva on an animals fur can transmit the virus. Being licked or scratched by a rabid animal can also spread the virus.
When the rabies virus enters the body it searches out the nerves where it enters the body. It then must replicate (duplicate) then follow the central nervous system to the spinal column to the brain. The time period between being exposed to the virus and the and the start of symptoms is called incubation. During the incubation period is the time that allows humans to seek effective treatment from there doctor or hospital. Modern rabies treatment, if begun in time allows our bodies to fight off the virus. Once the disease reaches the brain and symptoms start to show the disease is fatal in both humans and animals.
A domestic animal such as dogs, puppies, cats and kittens can shed (transmit to animals and humans) the virus up to 3 days before they show any symptoms of rabies. Unlike dogs and cats, the time that the rabies virus may be transmitted in the saliva of wild animals, such as raccoons, foxes, bats, skunks, bobcats, etc., before showing signs of rabies cannot be predicted.
Infected wild animals can easily pass rabies to pets or other
domestic animals. Grazing horses or cattle are infected when bitten by raccoons,
skunks or foxes they encounter in their pastures. Dogs and cats can also be exposed
in encounters with infected wild animals or other infected domestic animals. Humans
who are later in contact with these animals are then placed at risk.
Any animal, wild or domestic, acting in a strange or unusual manner should be treated with caution and avoided.
Most people think rabid animals can be easily spotted because of excessive drool and foaming at the mouth. In fact, most animals will display these symptoms only in the latter stages of the infection, and sometimes not even then.
A way to identify animals that pose a risk is to recognize unusual,
or abnormal behavior. Rabid animals, wild or domestic, may stagger (like they are
drunk), appear restless, be aggressive, change the tone of their barks or growls, or
appear to be choking. Animals that usually are active at night may become active
during the day. Passive animals sometimes become fierce and aggressive.
There are many things that people can do to protect themselves from exposure to rabies. The easiest and simplest way to protect yourself and your pets is to make sure that all domestic dogs and cats four months of age or older have a current rabies vaccination.
If your animal comes into contact with a possible rabid animal, do not handle your animal with your bear hands as the saliva on your animal from the possible rabid animal can transmit the virus to you.
Stay away from all wild animals and unknown dogs and cats.
Teach your children the importance of staying away from wild animals and unknown dogs/puppies and cats/kittens. Make sure they tell you immediately if they are bitten or scratched by any animal.
Avoid any animal acting unusual.
Never try to break up an animal fight by putting your hands or any part of your body between the animals, even if your pet is involved.
Avoid handling dead animals. If you must handle dead animals
If you must feed your pets outside, feed them near the house, allow
your pet time to eat, and then remove leftover food; food left outside will attract other
animals such as raccoons, foxes, possums, feral cat, stray cats and dogs. Do
not throw food scraps outside, throwing food scraps into the yard is an invitation
for wild animals to come to your door. When that animal gets sick it will most
likely come back to where it has been feed. Instead place food scraps in a secure
trash container which animals cannot enter.
In the event of a bite or other potential exposure especially from a wild animal or domestic animal acting strange, have someone contact Animal Control for instructions about the animal. If it is a wild animal that caused the bite, scratch or other exposure it is very important that this animal not be allowed to get away. When it is killed, do not damage the brain. If it is a domestic animal that is acting strange that caused the bite, scratch or other exposure try to confine the animal if a t all possible without placing your self or others in danger.
Wash the affected area of exposure immediately with soap and water. Contact your physician or health department about advice on treatment.
All animal bites, whether the animal is wild or domestic, vaccinated or not, must be reported to Animal Control or the Health Department, by the person or parent of person bitten if person bitten is a minor), the owner of the animal or in control or possession of the animal and the physician who attends a person bitten by an animal. All dogs and cats that bite a person, vaccinated or not vaccinated must be confined for 10 days, for observation.
If you think your pet may have come into contact with a rabid animal or may have the rabies virus contact Animal Control right away.
If your animal fights with or has other possible contact with a
possible rabid animal, contact Animal Control for instructions. Do not handle
your pet with your bear hands.
County sponsored Rabies Clinics will be held during the months of May and October each year.
Rabies shots are given at Beaufort County Veterinary Hospitals during normal business hours. Rabies shots at these 2 local hospitals are $8.00 per cat or dog.
Pamlico Animal Hospital 946-2834
Tar River Animal Hospital 946-2417
Hours M-F 8AM to 12 PM, 1 PM to 5:30 PM, Sat. 8 AM to 12 PM
FOR 3 YEAR VACCINE, WRITTEN PROOF OF CURRENT VACCINATION MUST BE PROVIDED.
PREGNANT OR NURSING FEMALE DOGS OR CATS CAN BE VACCINATED.
HEALTHY PUPPIES OR KITTENS CAN BE VACCINATED AS EARLY AS 3 MONTHS OLD.
FOR THEIR SAFETY DOGS MUST BE ON A LEASH. FOR THEIR SAFETY CATS MUST BE IN A CARRIER.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL VETERINARIANS LISTED ABOVE OR BEAUFORT COUNTY ANIMAL CONTROL AT 946-4517.
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