So I am going to start this post off slightly different from the others. First let me ask how many of you have seen a zombie movie? Of course if you’re into the gore then you must have thought it was great right? Let’s assume that the gore isn’t your thing. Your first time seeing a zombie film completely creeped you out! Basically a person gets a random virus that affects their brain and fills them with a murderous rage. The virus then makes them attack and kill/infect other people. It’s easy not to be afraid of something when you know it’s just a movie. But what if I told you that the virus that infected the zombies was a real virus. Then would you be scared?
What is Rabies?
So let me re-phrase by saying there is a virus similar to that of the zombie virus. Sorry to all my monster movie fans but I am referring to the rabies virus. Some elements of the rabies virus have actually been used as inspiration for the zombie and Dracula movies. You may have even heard of the rabies virus if you have either owned a pet or have seen the movie Cujo. Rabies has actually been around for quite some time. Some of the first cases were seen around 1930 BC but the vaccine itself was not invented until 1885. Wow! imagine just how many cases occurred between that time period. Here we are in 2019 and not that many people are well-informed about the virus. So what exactly is rabies and how can we stay protected?
Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system and causes brain swelling. Without immediate treatment, the virus can be fatal. Rabies is spread through saliva mostly through bites, but licking, scratching and open wounds are also possibilities. Eyes, nose and mouth are gateways as well.
How does this affect us?
Rabies is generally contracted through bites by a rabies carrier. Common animals that carry the disease are bats, raccoons and foxes to name a few. If you see any of these guys nearby, it is best to steer clear especially if they are acting abnormal. Now if they are coming onto your property or in your neighborhood, I would suggest calling your area’s animal control to have them removed. It is not wise to remove the animal yourself. The best thing is to not put yourself in a situation where you can be bitten.
While we are on the subject of bites and preventing them, how does this tie into pet ownership? Of course we want to keep our pets from being bitten by a possible rabid animal but if it does happen some states may require a 6-month quarantine for your pet. Why? Well in some cases it can take 8 weeks or longer for rabies symptoms to show in an animal. 6 months without any symptoms is a good indicator that your pet is n the clear. Now as the owner, it would be your responsibility to pay any costs associated with the quarantine. Boarding your pet for a short time can be okay but over a 6-month period, this can get really expensive. The only other option is to have your pet put down. Since neither option A nor B sound pleasant, I prefer to stick with option C. Keep a close eye on your pets when playing near wooded areas and keep them up to date on their rabies vaccine.
Now let’s say the shoe was on the other foot and your pet was not bitten but was the biter. Whether you realize it or not, your pet actually falls into the category of a rabies vector. So you may have guessed that if your pet does bite, some states require another quarantine. Oh don’t worry, this one is only 10 days. What’s the difference? So in order to pass the virus to another animal or human, it has to have gone through what is called the “incubation period” and already attacked the brain. This is the point where the known symptoms of foaming at the mouth and aggression are seen. In a nutshell, it is easier to look for symptoms in a 10-day time frame from an animal that has bitten because they can only pass the disease after the virus has affected their brain. The animal will either start showing symptoms or die within the 10 days. For an animal that was bitten, it takes longer for symptoms to show. The only accurate way to test for rabies is to submit brain tissue.
How can we stay protected?
As of right now there is no cure for rabies. There are preventative vaccines that you can receive if you work around animals and there is a high chance of an animal bite occurring. There are also vaccines you receive once you have been bitten. If you are exposed to rabies, you should get to the doctor pronto and get a vaccine. There is usually 3 or 4 rabies vaccines that you will receive in a series. For pet owners, most states require that your pet is vaccinated against rabies each year. A vet can issue a 3-year vaccine if you go on or before the date of expiration of the previous rabies shot.
So let’s see if we can sum this up. We have a deadly virus that can be passed from animals to humans. There is no cure for the virus and the time that it takes for you to start showing symptoms is anywhere from 2 weeks to 8 weeks to 6 months maybe more. Not many people are informed on the dangers, so let’s think of how many unvaccinated animals are out there! Scared yet? Now that you understand what the rabies virus is and why it is so important, make sure you keep your pets up to date on vaccines and away from wildlife. If you are unsure whether your pet is required to have the vaccine, definitely check with your vet. You can also check out more detailed information about rabies here at https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/index.html also here at https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/rabies. Let’s do what we can to keep ourselves safe and prevent our own real life monster movie. Please feel free to drop a line in the comment box below.