Myths and Facts About Rabies

You are all probably aware of the dangers involved with rabid animals however I think there is a lot of confusion surrounding the myths and facts about rabies. In the US and Puerto Rico, less than 10% of all the rabies cases reported involved domestic animals, However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a real danger to you, your family and your pets. If rabies is left untreated it is always fatal, so precautionary vaccinations must be administered as quickly as possible after exposure to any potentially rabid animal.

Don’t take a chance, know the facts about rabies.

Myths and Facts About Rabies

Some common myths about rabies include the idea that if an animal is behaving erratically or unusual it must have rabies. This is just not true, just because an animal is behaving strangely does not necessarily mean it has rabies. Bats, raccoons and other wild critters suspected of carrying the rabies virus will often behave erratically for alternative reasons.

In some cases, normal feeding times may have been disrupted and daytime foraging may be necessary for a mother raccoon to provide food for her family. Or young bats will sometimes practice their flying skills during daylight in spite of the dangers. There are no outward signs that conclusively prove an animal has rabies. Laboratory tests have to be done to confirm the diagnosis.

Here are a few more myths and facts about rabies from Fire Chief Frank Montagna on his website:

  • Myth. A rabid dog will froth at the mouth.

Fact. Not necessarily. Dogs can be afflicted by two types of rabies: the dumb or paralytic type and the furious type. A dog with the paralytic type drools constantly a result of paralysis of the jaw muscles. The dog’s tongue will hang out of its mouth and saliva will continually drip, creating a frothing appearance. This type of rabies occurs in about 20 percent of the cases. That means that 80 percent of rabies-infected dogs won’t forth at the mouth.

  • Myth. A rabid dog will be vicious and snap at everything.

Fact. Again, not necessarily. A dog with the furious type of rabies might act in this manner. At first, it will snap at strangers; as the disease progresses, it will snap at nonexistent objects. Finally, if the dog should escape, it will run for miles, snapping at any creature it encounters before it eventually becomes paralyzed and dies.

See the full blog post here

Other facts about rabies you should be aware of; deaths due to rabies have dropped to less than five cases per year in the US, mainly because of the use of the rabies vaccine. Approximately 40, 000 people receive the vaccine in the US every year. Globally it is a very different story The World Health Organization that tracks this information says that over 55,000 people outside of the US, die each year from exposure to the rabies virus.

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