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How is rabies transmitted in an animal attack?

Last week, we discussed how an animal bite can affect you. There is one very serious complication that can occur that anyone who has been bitten by any animal might consider. This complication is rabies. Rabies can be carried and transmitted by a variety of animals. Our readers in Wisconsin should understand some of the basics of rabies.

What animals transmit rabies?

Pet dogs who aren't vaccinated from rabies can carry rabies. Other farm animals and pets, such as horses, cows, cats and ferrets can also carry the disease. Other animals that might transmit rabies include skunks, bats, foxes, raccoons and coyotes. Wild animals are especially troublesome because those animals won't ever be vaccinated.

How is rabies transmitted?

Rabies is a virus that is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. When the animal bites another animal or a human, the virus enters the bite wounds through the infected animal's saliva.

How serious is rabies?

This is a deadly virus. By the time a person starts to show symptoms of rabies, it if often too late to treat the virus. Anyone who has been bitten by an animal that has an unknown rabies status should seek medical care immediately, as vaccinations administered immediately might offer protection from the virus.

What are some of the symptoms of rabies?

Rabies causes flu-like symptoms that can last for days. These symptoms can include vomiting, fear of water, excessive salivation, confusion, headache, nausea, fever, insomnia, partial paralysis or insomnia.

Ferrets, dogs and cats are all pets that can be vaccinated against rabies. If you have visited a home where these pets live and were bitten, you should ask the owner for proof of vaccination. You will likely need medical care. If no vaccinations exist, a series of rabies shots might be necessary. In that case, you might opt to seek compensation from the pet owner to help cover the cost of the treatments and evaluations.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Rabies" accessed Feb. 27, 2015

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