Typically, it takes a few months for the virus to travel from the infection site to the brain. Essentially, once the virus reaches the brain, treatment is useless and the affected mammal will die. Treatment is only effective if exposure is known and treatment is initiated before clinical signs begin.
Typically, the clinical signs of rabies progress in stages Dogs that have contracted the disease often show a change in personality first. Often, calm and quiet dogs become agitated and aggressive whereas active or aggressive dogs become nervous or shy.
Following the initial stage of clinical signs, dogs will take on one of two very different forms of the disease. They will either show symptoms of furious rabies or dumb rabies.
Furious rabies is the more typical type that most people are aware of the symptoms. The rabid dog becomes extremely excitable and displays signs such as eating and chewing on unusual objects like rocks or dirt. The common sign of fear of water is not a symptom of rabies in dogs! That is only a symptom seen in human rabies. Finally, the rabid dog dies during a violent seizure.
Dumb rabies is actually the more common form of rabies seen in dogs. Paralysis of the legs is typical of the beginning of dumb rabies. The paralysis progresses to the facial muscles and even causes difficulty swallowing. Many dog owners might even think they have something stuck in their throat. However, it is not a good idea to examine their mouth since rabies is often transmitted through the saliva.
It is estimated that more than 55,000 people around the world die from rabies each year! Worldwide, more people die from rabies than polio, diphtheria, and yellow fever combined. The rabies virus is widespread throughout the world with only a few countries that are free of rabies. Rabies was once rare in the United States, but raccoons have been suffering from a rabies epidemic since the 1970s. Other wild animals such as skunks and bats are common carriers of rabies and compose the majority of non-human cases in the United States.
Additionally, bats are responsible for most human cases of rabies in the U.S. Other animals such as monkeys, foxes, cattle, wolves, groundhogs, weasels and other wild carnivores may become infected with rabies and pose a risk to humans. Rodents (mice, squirrels, etc.) are seldom infected. However in some rare and unusual cases, rabies is known to have been transmitted between humans by transplant surgeries. In these cases, the organ donor had been infected and died of rabies without doctors’ knowledge.
Unfortunately, despite the efforts of healthcare officials and veterinarians, rabies is thriving. Rabies can be prevented by vaccination. Pre-exposure (before being exposed) and post-exposure (after being exposed) vaccines are available for humans. Traditionally, pre-exposure vaccines have been given only to those who are at greater risk such as veterinarians, veterinary clinic employees and animal shelter employees. Post-exposure vaccines are given to anyone exposed to an animal that is suspected of having rabies.
Primarily, our efforts are designed to ensure that the public understands that rabies is a serious public health concern and we need to do everything we possibly can to prevent it. It is extremely important to have all dogs, cats, and ferrets vaccinated against rabies and to control stray cats and dogs in our local community by not setting food out for stray animals.
Therefore, the Clark County Health Department, the Clark County Animal Shelter, and local veterinarians are planning a free rabies clinic in which anyone interested can have their dogs or cats professionally and properly vaccinated against rabies with absolutely no cost to the pet owner!
The free rabies clinic will be held on Saturday afternoon on December 3, 2011 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The location will be at 116 Hud Road at the Hud Road Industrial Park on Route 60 just one mile from Mcdonald’s next to the big blue water tower. Be sure to have all your pets properly vaccinated for rabies to ensure your pets live a long, healthy, and happy life!