Beat rabies now: Essential tips to stay safe

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Navigating the risks of rabies starts with understanding its sources and the measures you can take to steer clear of this deadly virus. In the US, wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes are the usual carriers. Keeping a safe distance from these animals is your first line of defence against rabies.

What is rabies?

Rabies, a serious illness affecting mammals, poses a fatal risk if untreated. It spreads through the saliva of infected animals, making bites a common transmission mode. Understanding rabies is crucial for prevention and prompt treatment.

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What happens when you get rabies?

Once the rabies virus enters your system, it travels to your brain, triggering a series of distressing symptoms. Initially, you might not notice anything amiss, but early treatment is vital to prevent the virus from advancing.

How common is rabies?

Rabies prevalence varies globally, with significant numbers in Asia and Africa. In the US, wildlife like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes are frequent carriers. Avoiding these animals reduces your rabies risk.

Who does rabies affect?

Rabies doesn’t discriminate, affecting both animals and humans. However, children and individuals with frequent animal exposure, such as veterinarians, face higher risks.

How does rabies affect your body?

The rabies virus wreaks havoc on your nervous system. After a dormant phase, symptoms like fever, headache, and general weakness emerge, followed by more severe neurological effects.

Why does rabies cause a fear of water?

Rabies can lead to hydrophobia, a fear of water because it causes painful spasms in the throat when attempting to drink. This symptom is a tell-tale sign of advanced rabies.

Rabies: Know the signs

Beat rabies now: Essential tips to stay safe | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: via Hindustan time

Symptoms:

  • Early: Flu-like (fever, fatigue, irritability)
  • Later: Seizures, hallucinations, paralysis, hydrophobia (fear of water)
  • Remember: Once symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal.

Diagnosis:

  • Difficult, often requires multiple tests.
  • Start preventive treatment immediately, even without confirmation.
  • Key: Seek medical help right away after potential exposure, don’t wait for symptoms.
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Transmission:

  • Mainly through saliva from infected animal bites/scratches.
  • Can also enter through eyes, mouth, nose, or open wounds.
  • Person-to-person transmission is extremely rare.
  • Globally, bats are the main culprits, followed by dogs in some regions.
  • Wild animals like foxes and raccoons pose low risk.

How to steer clear of rabies

Know your risks

First off, recognise the animals that commonly carry rabies. While dogs are the primary culprits in many regions, bats in the Americas, and wild animals like raccoons, skunks, and foxes can also pose threats. Therefore, avoiding direct contact with unfamiliar or wild animals is key. If you’re an animal lover, this may mean resisting the urge to feed or touch animals you encounter while travelling or in your backyard.

Vaccination: Your first line of defence

Getting vaccinated against rabies offers you a safety net, especially if you travel to areas where rabies is more common or if you’re in frequent contact with animals. Remember to vaccinate your pets as well; keeping their rabies shots up to date is not only a legal requirement in many locales but also an integral part of your rabies defence strategy.

Immediate actions post-exposure

Should you suspect rabies exposure through a bite, scratch, or saliva from an infected animal contacting an open wound or mucous membrane, immediate action is essential. Promptly wash the wound with soap and water for several minutes. This simple act can dramatically reduce your risk of infection.

Avoid wild animals

To dodge the risk of rabies, a crucial step is to steer clear of wild animals. While the allure of interacting with wildlife might be tempting, it’s paramount to remember your safety comes first. Here are simple yet effective strategies you can implement to keep wild animals at bay and protect yourself and your pets from potential exposure to rabies.

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Beat rabies now: Essential tips to stay safe | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: via The Print
  • Don’t entice wild animals: Ensure your home and garden don’t become a haven for wildlife seeking food. Avoid leaving bird seed out and store pet food indoors. Seal your bins tightly and make sure there are no accessible food sources that might attract unwanted guests.
  • Safeguard your home: Small openings or cracks can become gateways for bats and other wildlife. To prevent their entry, inspect your home thoroughly—especially during fall and winter—for any gaps that might offer access. If you discover bats have already set up residence, engage with local health authorities for humane removal options.
  • Educate your children: Instruct your kids on the importance of avoiding contact with unfamiliar animals. Encourage them to report any bites or close encounters immediately to an adult. This quick response can be crucial in preventing rabies transmission.
  • Take immediate action with wildlife on your property: If a wild animal wanders onto your property, the safest course of action is to allow it to leave on its own. Meanwhile, ensure the safety of children and pets by keeping them indoors. It’s also considerate to inform your neighbours. Should the animal not leave or if it poses an immediate threat, contact a professional wildlife control officer equipped to handle the situation safely and effectively.

Are you passionate about animals and considering adopting a stray dog in Thailand? Explore our insightful article, “Can You Adopt Stray Dogs in Thailand?” for valuable guidance.

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