Are all wild animals rabid?

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Rabies is a deadly virus, and one that has been kept in check by some very strict rules over recent years. In Europe especially, traveling with pets and other animals that could potentially carry and transit the rabies virus is a rather tricky business. A pet passport is necessary, as well as a series of vaccinations and checkups. Just one of the vaccinations that is necessary to ensure the pets are safe, is the rabies vaccination.

For the most part, rabies has been kept in check by the vaccination and strict rules on traveling pets. Britain does not have a rabies problem, apart from a new and unique strain that seems to be carried by bats, and this is because they have very strict travel rules. No pets are allowed to enter the country unless they have been treated and vaccinated in a special way, usually a series of three vaccinations to complete a rabies course.

How is rabies spread?

Rabies is infectious for the entire time it is wet, and it is transmitted through nervous system tissue, brain tissue, and also saliva. When the saliva dries up, it is considered to be somewhat safe. The virus is considered to be a noninfectious one at this point.

If a wild animal were to bite you, and that bite was to draw blood, the saliva would have sunk into your skin enough to get into your blood stream. The same transmission can occur when the infected animal scratches you also. If the animal has licked its paws or claws, for example, and the saliva is still wet, the scratch (if it were to draw blood) would still be active. The scratch would push the saliva into your bloodstream, and you would then be infected with the rabies virus.

The same processes apply to animals also, but things get even more complicated. If an animal were to eat an infected animal, it could become infected with the rabies virus. And, for the record, ANY mammal can become infected with the rabies virus, as well as passing it on, and in some animals it can even lie dormant for many weeks, months and, in some situations, even years. The animal could look fine, act fine, but deep down be infected with that rabies virus.

There are a number of animals that are well known to carry the infectious disease, as well as passing it on. The most common culprits are critters such as coyotes, foxes, skunks, bats, and raccoons. These creatures could pass the disease on to domestic animals who have not been vaccinated — neighborhood cats and dogs, for example. Cattle can also become infected.

Which animals do not pass rabies on to humans and pets?

There are actually a few mammals who do not get rabies, or, at the very least, do not pass it on to humans and other animals. The opossum is one of them. It is believed that their internal body temperature is too low to accommodate the virus. The virus can be present in the body, but it is not active. Some scientists actually believe that opossums CAN’T carry or transmit the rabies virus, but because they are still small mammals with the potential to, the risks can’t be entirely ruled out. In 55,000 cases around the globe annually, rabies is fatal, usually in the developing countries.

The kind of rabies that is transmitted by bats first originated in the West Indies, but has now been noted in both Northern and Southern USA, as well as other places around the world. Just a few years ago, back in 2010, a man died after being bitten by a rabies-infected and rabid bat whilst holidaying in Mexico. In 2006, an elderly patient in Canada was bitten by a bat, but the bite was forgotten about and brushed under the carpet. The rabies virus lie dormant in the pensioner for over six months, and once the symptoms materialized, the man was treated. Sadly he died a few weeks later, as is the case with most rabid bat bites that are not treated by a medical professional.

There are some animals across the states that CAN carry the disease, but probably don’t. It would be easy to fall into a false sense of security, believing that these creatures were safe to be around, feed, and even pet, but it could be just one bite that ends things for you, or your family members. Regardless of whether you think the animal is safe and well, you should keep your distance, and you should also educate your children to do the same.

For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How To Guide: Who should I hire? - What questions to ask, to look for, who NOT to hire.
How To Guide: do it yourself! - Advice on saving money by doing wildlife removal yourself.
Guide: How much does wildlife removal cost? - Analysis of wildlife control prices.
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