Rabies is a viral disease that is spread most often from the bite of a rabid animal to another animal or to a human.
The rabies virus affects the central nervous system. During the incubation period, (the time between exposure to the virus and the appearance of symptoms), the virus travels along nerves towards the brain. This process can take 10-50 days. The infection causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord that lead to death.
High -risk animals include: bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, woodchucks and non-domesticated (wild) dogs.
People should seek immediate treatment by a doctor after a bite or contact with an infected animal. The sooner treatment is started, the more likely a person will avoid developing the disease.
Pets and livestock should be vaccinated against rabies. In Vermont dogs and cats can be given the first vaccine around twelve weeks of age. After that the rabies vaccine should be boostered 1 year later, then every 3 years. If a pet is potentially exposed to a rabid animal contact your veterinarian.
You can prevent being infected with the rabies virus by remembering these tips:
Do not feed wild animals and stay at a safe distance when observing them.
Stay away from animals showing signs of rabies.
If you suspect an animal is rabid, stay away from it and contact the local authorities.
Having your pets and livestock vaccinated against rabies will provide a layer of protection against this deadly disease.