What to do when a rabid animal attacks - AmericaNowNews.com


When a rabid animal attacks

Between 16,000 and 39,000 people are treated annually in the U.S. for rabies following exposure to a potentially rabid animal.

Wild animals account for up to 92 percent of reported cases for rabies according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rabies is a deadly virus that attacks the central nervous system.

Carroll Senn remembers being bitten by a fox. 

"One of his teeth went in there," Senn said while pointing to the injury on his leg. "He was crazy-eyed looking."

The damage inflicted by the animal was potentially deadly.

"If you wait until the signs and symptoms show themselves, then it's too late," warns Adam Myrick, a spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. "Rabies is essentially 100 percent fatal."

A crazed raccoon foaming at the mouth is often the poster-child for rabies, but bats, foxes, skunks and coyotes can also be carriers of the deadly disease.

Regardless of whether you live in a city or the country, wildlife officers say you're just as likely to have an encounter with one of these animals. 

Senn says he was inside his garage when a fox attacked his leg.

"He was clamped on; he didn't let go until my pants tore," Senn recalls.

Foxes are nocturnal animals. So, if they are roaming and attack during the daytime, this could be an indication the animal is rabid. Other signs could include wild animals acting tame, or a tame animal acting wild.

Dr. Mary Blinn is a veterinarian at the Mecklenburg County Animal Control Shelter in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"You always have to assume the worst for the safety of the person who was bitten," Blinn warns.

Assume there is a risk of rabies no matter the animal species, and no matter how big or small the bite.

Immediately call animal control, because they are the only people who should attempt to catch the animal and test it for rabies.

Then, the victim should be taken to an emergency room to be vaccinated.

There is no test to tell if a person is infected with rabies except by obtaining a brain tissue sample.

That's why it only makes sense to start the rabies vaccine schedule as soon as possible following a possible exposure.

Some of the symptoms rabies can cause include seizures, confusion, coma and death.

Wildlife officials say you should never encourage a wild animal to come inside your home.

You should also avoid feeding, touching or adopting wild animals or strays.

Don't leave food outside, and keep garbage cans sealed.

Board up attic and wall openings, and don't let your pets roam free.

Should your path cross with a wild animal, try to let it wander off. Then, alert your children, neighbors and local animal control.

"Wildlife should not be feared, but definitely respected," says Jonathan Shaw, a biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Commission.

You should also keep as much distance between you and the animal.

Remember, if a rabid animal finds you and attacks, your life may depend on how quickly you can get to the nearest emergency room.

The lives of others can also be saved by simply making a phone call to report a potentially rabid animal to authorities.

Additional Information:

The following information is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Rabies is caused by the rabies virus.
  • It may take weeks or years for symptoms to show, but usually one to three months after infection.
  • Symptoms include fever, headache, confusion, sleepiness, and agitation.
  • Raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes and coyotes can get rabies as well as dogs, cats, cows and warm-blooded animals.
  • Keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all pets, and keep pets under supervision. Call animal control to remove any strays in your community.
  • Do not feed or unintentionally attract wild animals by keeping garbage cans open.
  • Never adopt wild animals or try to nurse sick animals back to health. Instead, call animal control.
  • Prevent bats from entering living spaces.
  • If you will be traveling abroad, avoid direct contact with wild animals.
  • Click here to see a graph of places in the US with reported cases of rabies.

The following information is from eMedicineHhealth.com.

  • Human rabies in the US is rare. Worldwide, 55,000 people die from rabies each year.
  • Between 16,000 and 39,000 people in the US receive preventative treatment after being exposed to a potentially rabid animal every year.
  • Wild animals accounted for 92 percent of reported cases for rabies, rather than domestics, in 2010.
  • Raccoons are the most common wild animal infected in the US.
  • Bats are the most common animals responsible for human transmission in the US (74% percent of cases since 1990).
  • Cats are the most common domestic animal with rabies in the US. Worldwide, dogs have higher rates of rabies transmission.
  • Most people develop pain, tingling, and itching at the bite site.
  • Fevers, chills, fatigue, aches and irritability follow, similar to the flu.
  • High fever, confusion, agitation, seizures and coma follow.
  • In addition to potential transmission, people should be checked for other infections (i.e. bacterial).
  • No testing is needed on humans because there's no way to detect if its been passed to you.
  • Do not bring a potentially rabid animal to the emergency room. Instead, call animal control to pick up the animal.
  • Vaccination is safe during pregnancy.
  • If you are taking medications that suppress the immune system, discuss the rabies vaccination scheduled first with your doctor.
  • One type of rabies vaccine injection is the Human Rabies Immune Globulin (HRIG) which is based on an individual's weight. Do NOT estimate your weight. Then injection of the vaccine begins during the initial visit to the emergency department and will proceed on a schedule over the next 14 days, with a total of four small injections.
    (Click to read more.)

The following is from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

  • Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system.
  • The virus is present primarily in the saliva, brain tissue and spinal fluid of a rabid animal.
  • Birds, fish, insects, lizards, snakes and turtles never get rabies.
  • Although bats can carry the rabies virus, most bats are not infected with it. Bats seen during the day, those found in a place where bats are usually not found (e.g., in a room in your home, on your lawn, etc.), or bats that are unable to fly are more likely to be infected than others. Bats, like all wild animals, should never be handled.
  • Not all bat bites are apparent, they have small teeth and make small marks.
  • Do not discard the bat or damage the bat's head.
  • The first sign of rabies is usually a change in animal behavior, but not all "foam at the mouth." Some have trouble walking, look sick, or act abnormally. If a normally wild animal approaches acting tame, consider it rabid. On the other hand, a normally tame animal that becomes hostile, consider it rabid.
  • Rabid animals usually die within a week after showing signs.
  • Exposure usually occurs after a bite.
  • Wash the wound with soap and water, and seek medical attention immediately.
  • Notify the health department and animal control who can capture it without damaging its head.
  • If its an apparently healthy domestic animal, it must be captured, confined and professionally observed for 10 days after a bite. If it is still healthy, it would not have transmitted rabies at the time of the bite.
  • If an animal suspected of having rabies cannot be observed or tested, or if it tests positive, the person should get the vaccine series immediately.
  • If your pet might have been exposed, call your vet. A vaccinated pet may need a booster dose of rabies vaccine. An unvaccinated animal must be confined and observed for a period, or euthanized.
  • Do not feed, touch, or adopt wild animals or strays.
  • Make sure pets are up-to-date with their rabies vaccines.
  • Do not allow pets to roam free.
  • Do not attract wild animals. Store bird seed or animal feed in closed containers, make sure garbage cans are sealed, board up attic openings, cap chimneys with screens, empty rain barrels or water bowls.
  • If a wild animal comes on your property, let it wander away. Bring children and pets indoors and alert neighbors. If the animal is acting abnormally (nocturnal animal around during daylight hours, animal having trouble walking, etc.), you should contact your local animal control.

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