Today, rabies rarely results in human fatalities in the United States, but rabies does remain a potentially dangerous health problem. Each year, more than twenty thousand Americans have to undergo anti-rabies treatment as a result of exposure to "rabid" animals. While the incidence of rabies continues to decline in domestic animals , more than six thousand cases of animal rabies are confirmed every year in this country.
All warm blooded animals can transmit rabies. The majority of the animal rabies cases in the United States are found in wild animals. Rabies is most commonly found in skunks, raccoons, foxes, bats, coyotes, groundhogs, and domestic farm animals - including horses, cattle, goats, sheep, swine, or exotics such as ferrets. Among domestic pets, dogs and cats are the most commonly infected animals.
Pet owners should:
- Cooperate with community sponsored rabies control programs
- Understand the basic signs of rabies
- Know what to do if bitten by a pet, stray or wild animal
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. The rabies virus is transmitted through the saliva of rabid animals and can be transmitted to humans or other animals by getting saliva from an infected animal in a bite or open wound, the eye , or mouth. Prompt and appropriate treatment , after being bitten and before the disease develops, can stop the infection and prevent the disease.