Rabies: Facts vs Myths

Rabies virus infects the central nervous system, causing brain disease and death. There is no cure for this disease.

Facts:

  1. The rabies virus is transmitted in the saliva of an infected animal when the infected animal bites another animal, but it can also be found in the eyes or nose. It can also be transmitted through a scratch or open wound.
  2. An infected animal can only transmit rabies after the onset of symptoms. Symptoms include:
    a. Lethargy
    b. Stupor
    c. Walking in circles
    d. Paralysis of one or both back legs
    e. Loss of balance
    f. Eyes or nose discharge
    g. Extreme aggressiveness or tameness to humans
  3. The only way to test for rabies is by examination of the brain tissue of a dead animal. The animal has to be euthanized so know for certain an animal is ill before calling animal control as this means the animal is euthanized.
  4. Bats are at highest risk of having rabies

Myths:

  1. Nocturnal animals out in the daytime have rabies (skunk, raccoon, etc). It’s a common misconception that a nocturnal animal seen out in the daytime must be rabid, but that is rarely the case. In spring and early summer, mothers and juveniles will venture forth even in daylight to search for food.
  2. All foxes, raccoons, skunks, and bats have rabies. Not all rabies vector species have rabies. It is just more common for these species to be infected. Only a small percentage is actually infected with the virus.
  3. Rabies is not preventable. Rabies is highly preventable by keeping a safe distance away from wildlife. It is also preventable in your dog and cat through the use of vaccines.

Prevention

  1. Do not approach wildlife. Keep a safe distance.
  2. Do not touch wildlife bare-handed.
  3. Do not keep wildlife as pets.
  4. Do not feed wildlife. Feed pets indoors. Remove cat and dog food outside at night. This attracts wildlife and many different species which increases disease spread.
  5. Keep pets up to date on vaccinations.
  6. Avoid animals displaying unnatural behavior.
  7. Discourage contact between pets and wildlife.

Big Country Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is doing its part in protecting our community by quarantining all rabies vector species on admission and vaccinating with rabies, distemper, and parvo prior to release back into the wild.

If a skunk, raccoon, or fox is displaying unnatural behavior, call us for further instructions. Some injuries can reveal similar symptoms of rabies. We quarantine and vaccinate for rabies prior to release. Any wildlife with high suspicion of rabies is euthanized and sent for testing. Before calling animal control know the animal is indeed ill…

If you have come into contact with a rabies vector species, notify animal control and seek treatment by your primary care physician. Post exposure rabies vaccination will be given by your primary care physician or by the health department. The first vaccination must be given within 7-10 days of bite or contact.

Big Country Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Inc
9181 US HWY 277 South
Hawley, Texas 79525
(325) 280-1328
For more information on rabies and prevention, visit bigcountrywildliferescue.org.