Rabies is a viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, and ultimately the brain, causing death.
In Mississippi bats are the primary reservoir for the rabies virus. Bats with rabies continue to be identified in the state and, while human cases of rabies are rare in Mississippi, bats are the primary wild animal responsible for transmitting the disease to humans. This is why any contact with a bat whether a bite is identified or not, puts an individual at risk for rabies infection. In 2013 1.84% of the bats tested for rabies in Mississippi were positive compared to the national percentage of 5.87% positive of all bats tested.
Any mammal can be infected with rabies; however, like human rabies, land animal rabies is rare in Mississippi. Since 1961 only a single case of land animal rabies (a feral cat in 2015) has been identified in our state. In the United States raccoons, skunks, and foxes are the most commonly identified land animals with rabies. Rabies is not typically seen in rodents such as mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks, guinea pigs, hamsters, or rabbits. Birds, turtles, lizards, fish and insects do not contract or carry rabies.
Once symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal. Symptoms include convulsions, paralysis, and finally death. If you are bitten or exposed to an animal that carries rabies, early treatment before symptoms appear is important.
Mississippi state law requires the rabies vaccination to be given by a licensed veterinarian to all dog and cats over three months of age, again at one year of age, and at least every three years thereafter. Read the summary here »
|Poster: Rabies Risk, Prevention and Treatment||http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/resources/6405.pdf|
|Rabies information from the CDC||http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/|
|Read the summary here »||http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/14,916,142,pdf/LawSummary.pdf|
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