What is it?
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. The virus is present in the saliva and the nervous tissue of a rabid animal. Rabies can be transmitted to animals and humans via the bite of an infected animal or through its saliva entering an open cut or mucous membrane (nose, mouth, eyes).
What animals can get it?
Rabies is most often seen in wild mammals such as raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes. Cats, dogs and livestock can also contract rabies if they are not vaccinated to protect them. Deer and large rodents such as woodchucks can also be affected.
Some animals almost never contract rabies such as rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, mice, etc. Other animals never ever get rabies, such as birds, snakes, turtles, lizards and insects.
What are the signs of rabies?
Signs of rabies include unusually aggressive or unusually tame behavior in wild animals. The animal may lose its fear of people and natural enemies. Staggering about (also called drunken sailors’ gait), convulsions and paralysis may also be symptoms of rabies. Mange, (severe hair loss which is caused by a mite) is NOT a symptom of rabies.
What should you do if you think you have been exposed?
Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek immediate medical attention. Try to capture the animal without damage to its head or risking further exposure. All animal bites should be reported to the Saratoga County Health Department at (518)584-7460, whether the animal is wild or domestic.