Rabies in Animals

Rabies is a disease that affects dogs, foxes, wolves, hyaenas, and in some cases, bats that feed on blood.

Causes of rabies

If a person is bitten by a rabies-infected animal, the disease is transmitted to other animals or humans. The rabies-causing germs can be found in the saliva of a sick (rabid) animal. While rabies is a fatal disease, not every dog that bites is infected.

When a rabid animal bites any animal or a person, the germs that reside in the animal’s saliva cause infection through the bite wound. The germs migrate to the brain through the nerves. The period between the bite and the first signs of infection in the bitten animal or person can range from 2 to 10 weeks or longer. The amount of time it takes is determined by the distance between the bite and the brain. The bitten animal or human will show symptoms rapidly if the bite is on the face or head; however, if the bite is on the leg, signs will take much longer to appear.

High risk animals for rabies

  • Bats 
  • Raccoons 
  • Foxes 
  • Woodchucks 
  • Wild dogs 

Moreover, Domestic animals such as cats, dogs, and cattle may become rabid if bitten, so rabies vaccination is essential. Some states have successfully taken measures to immunise wildlife populations using vaccine-laced oral baits. This has a significant impact on the transmission of the disease to domestic animal populations.

Common signs of rabies

You can start by looking for bite marks and determining where and when the animal was bitten. At first, all rabid animals exhibit the same symptoms.

  • They deviate from their usual behavior and act oddly.
  • They don’t eat or drink anymore.
  • The body temperature does not change.
  • These symptoms will last 3 to 5 days. The animal would then develop one of two diseases before it dies:

a. The animal becomes violent and bites something when it is infected with the furious (mad) form of the disease.
b. When the animal is still and does not move, it is called the quiet (dumb) kind.

Prevention of rabies

Rabies transmission can be controlled through education and vaccination of wild animal populations. The risk of rabies transmission is reduced by minimizing the amount of wild animals carrying the virus and the likelihood that those animals will come into contact with pasture and farmland.
Cattle with unknown illnesses should be handled with caution, particularly if neurological signs are present. Gloves should be worn while inspecting a cow’s mouth to protect the veterinarian’s or stockman’s hands from saliva.

To prevent the spread of rabies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following steps.

• Virus Identification- At the national reference laboratory, characterize the virus.
• Source identification and control- Determine and eliminate the cause of the virus’s introduction.
• Boost Immunization- Increase the number of animals vaccinated against rabies.
• Surveillance can be improved- Surveillance of wild and domestic animals in laboratories should be improved.

Vaccine for rabies

There are no tests for rabies in live animals available. A post-mortem examination of the brain is usually needed for determination.
Pfizer (Defensor 3®), Schering- Plough (Rabdomun®), and Merial (Imrab 3® and Imrab Large Animal®) are the three firms that currently manufacture rabies vaccines. These vaccines aren’t made with live viruses; instead, they’re made with dead viruses.