Rabies Infections in Dogs and Humans

There have been reports of rabies as far back as 2000 BC; Aristotle spoke of how dogs could transmit this infection to other dogs by biting them. Pasteur treated a nine year old boy in 1885, which had been bitten by a rabid dog, with a rabid spinal cord vaccine. That boy is the first person to be successfully immunized against the infectious disease. However, he did not develop rabies from the bite. Approximately 55,000 people across the world die annually from rabies; the majority of these people live in Third World Countries.

Where Does Rabies Come From?

There are five known proteins in the rabies virus, the virus is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, wild or domestic carnivores. People that explore caves are more likely to come in contact with the rabies virus by breathing it in through their lungs. Bats live in the caves with a humid environment, where the rabies virus thrives, in these conditions the virus can live outside the host.

Wild carnivorous animals acquire rabies while feasting on infected prey; infected skunks have been known to transmit the virus to their young. Dogs account for only 5% of all infected rabies in the United States, in some Third World Countries dogs account for 90% of all rabies cases.

dog dangers

Photo Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/3520568651/

An increasing number of infected raccoons have been seen on the east coast of North America, while in the Midwest bats and skunks are more commonly found to have the rabies virus. Wild animals account for 93% of infectious rabies, within this 93%, 40% is caused by rabid raccoons, 30% skunks and 6% are infected fox.

When humans are bitten by an infected animal they will have symptoms first, in their skeletal muscles, travelling into the neuromuscular spindles, to the peripheral nerves, to their central nerves symptom. After a person has been bitten on the foot and becomes infected with the virus, symptoms will appear within about 60 days, if someone has been bitten about the face symptoms will likely appear within 30 days.

 Exposed animals:

Dogs that have been bitten by an infected animal should be kept isolated for up to 6 months and vaccinated 1 month prior to being released or.  It can take up to 2 weeks before a dog will show any signs of being infected, therefore they should be confined for at least 2 weeks, in some cases the dog will be destroyed immediately

Rabies vaccine:

Pups should be vaccinated for rabies at 3 months. The Center for Disease Control, recommends those traveling into Third World countries or high-risk areas, for more than 30 days should be vaccinated for Rabies.

Rabies is a dreadful virus that is easily preventable with little effort. Always have your pet vaccinated when required.

Shannon Davis is the assistant to veterinarian Susan Wright, DMV. Shannon writes articles to educate dog owners on dog dangers in and around the home.

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