(WTNH) -- Do you know the signs of rabies -- what to look for in animals, and what to watch out for if you have been bitten? Here is important information from the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What is rabies? (CT Dept. of Public Health )
Rabies is a viral disease affecting the central nervous system. It is transmitted from infected mammals to man and is invariably fatal once symptoms appear.
Where is the virus found?
The virus is found in many wild and domestic mammals including, raccoons, skunks, bats, and unvaccinated dogs.
How is rabies spread?
Rabies is usually spread through a bite from an infected animal; however, saliva contact with mucous membranes or open wounds on the skin are also possible routes.
Who gets rabies?
All warm blooded mammals including man can get rabies.
Any mammal can get rabies. (CDC.gov )
The most common wild reservoirs of rabies are raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes. Domestic mammals can also get rabies. Cats, cattle, and dogs are the most frequently reported rabid domestic animals in the United States.
Clinical signs of rabies in animals (CDC.gov )
Rabies virus causes an acute encephalitis in all warm-blooded hosts and the outcome is almost always fatal. The first symptoms of rabies may be nonspecific and include lethargy, fever, vomiting, and anorexia. Signs progress within days to cerebral dysfunction, cranial nerve dysfunction, ataxia, weakness, paralysis, seizures, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, abnormal behavior, aggression, and/or self-mutilation.
What are the signs and symptoms of rabies? (CDC.gov )
The first symptoms of rabies may be very similar to those of the flu including general weakness or discomfort, fever, or headache. These symptoms may last for days.
There may be also discomfort or a prickling or itching sensation at the site of bite, progressing within days to symptoms of cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, agitation. As the disease progresses, the person may experience delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, and insomnia.
The acute period of disease typically ends after 2 to 10 days. Once clinical signs of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal, and treatment is typically supportive.
Disease prevention includes administration of both passive antibody, through an injection of human immune globulin and a round of injections with rabies vaccine.
Once a person begins to exhibit signs of the disease, survival is rare. To date less than 10 documented cases of human survival from clinical rabies have been reported and only two have not had a history of pre- or postexposure prophylaxis.
Learn More: CDC.gov
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