Rabies Vector Species are the species most common to carry or have the rabies virus. RVS in the United States are bats, foxes, raccoons, and skunks. However, any mammal can get rabies, including humans.
Signs and symptoms of rabies in animals can vary. Rabies causes an acute encephalitis in all warm-blooded hosts and the outcome is almost always fatal. The first symptoms of rabies may be nonspecific and include lethargy, fever, vomiting, and anorexia. Signs progress within days to cerebral dysfunction, cranial nerve dysfunction, ataxia, weakness, paralysis, seizures, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, abnormal behavior, aggression towards humans or tameness, and/or self mutilation.
While rabies is rare, with only 1 to 3 cases reported each year, an average 60,000 Americans get post exposure prophylaxis each year to prevent rabies infection AFTER being bitten or had contact with the animal's saliva by an infected animal or suspected infected animal.
An average 120,000 animals or more are tested for rabies each year. In order to test for rabies the animal has to be euthanized. Only approximately 6% are found to be rabid- Thats right, only 6%. There is less than 1% in domestic animals to an average of 10% in wildlife. Approximately 4500 wild animals test positive for rabies each year. So what does this mean? Many healthy animals are being killed due to human ignorance. Rabies is preventable!
Not all RVS carry or have the rabies virus. It’s true that it is more common that a bat, skunk, fox, or raccoon can have the virus, but only a small percentage is actually infected with the virus. Give these animals space and let them live.
The virus is commonly transmitted in the saliva of an infected animal when it bites another animal, but it can also be found in its eyes and nose. It can also be transmitted through a scratch or open wound.
It’s a common misconception that a nocturnal animal seen out in the daytime must be rabid, but this is rarely the case. In spring and early summer, mothers and juveniles will venture forth even in the daylight to search for food.
A rabid animal will display symptoms such as lethargy, stupor, walking in circles, paralysis of one or both back legs, loss of balance, eye or nose discharge, or unexplained aggressiveness or tameness towards humans.
Rabies is highly preventable in your dog and cat through the use of vaccines. A cat, dog, or human living in the United States has a far less than 1% chance of contracting rabies due to widespread use of vaccines.
There is no way to test for rabies infection in a live animal. Know for certain an animal is I’ll before calling the game warden or animal control. Animal “control” basically means animal euthanasia.
1. Keep your pets current on vaccinations.
2. Do not keep wildlife as pets. It is illegal in the state of Texas.
3. Do not approach wildlife. Keep a safe distance.
4. Do not feed wildlife. They do not need our help. It attracts many wildlife and multiple species to one location increasing disease spread between them and causing habituation with humans. This puts them at risk of being killed.
5. Do not touch wildlife bare-handed. If the animal bites you it has to be euthanized and send for testing even if the animal does not have any symptoms of disease.
6. Do not provide shelter for wildlife. Secure property. Do not make it inviting for wildlife.
7. Enjoy our native wildlife from a far and appreciate their purpose of maintaining healthy ecosystems.