The virus lies dormant in the nerves for a period of time that varies from a few days to months. This is called the incubation period. If treatment is sought immediately and received during the incubation period, recovery is likely. The incubation period in humans averages 60 days.
After the incubation period, the virus travels through the nerves to the brain. This is when symptoms first appear. Death occurs within a few days of the onset of symptoms.
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Rabies affects the nervous system. Easily identifiable symptoms in animals include unusual behavior. Wild animals may act aggressively towards inanimate objects or lose their fear of humans and act friendly.
"Foaming at the mouth" may be present during the later stages of the disease, or not at all. "Foaming at the mouth" is caused by excessive drooling, throat muscle spasms or paralysis, and involuntary jaw movements that turn excessive drool into foam.
Early symptoms in humans include:
Symptoms rapidly progress to include:
People who have been bitten by a rabid animal are given a series of five rabies vaccinations and a single injection of rabies immune globulin (rabies antibodies). This treatment is considered to be 100% effective when administered within 14 days of rabies exposure.In the event of a rabies exposure, immediately flushing a bite wound with soap and water for five minutes will greatly reduce the chance of infection.
The incidence of rabies in Peoria County is very low. No human has ever contracted the disease in our county.There are different strains of the virus that tend to infect different species. The carriers of rabies in the midwest are skunks and bats.
The spread of rabies is most effectively controlled by vaccinating domestic animals against the disease. All dogs and cats in Peoria County are required by law to be currently vaccinated against rabies. All animal bites to humans that occur in Peoria County must be reported to our office. By law, any time a domestic animal bites a human in Peoria, it must be observed by a licensed veterinarian for rabies. The owners of biting animals are notified of this responsibility by Peoria County Animal Control. Veterinarians notify us when owners bring their animals in for the observation. Owners who do not comply are cited and must appear before a judge to answer the charge. Fines start at $75.Any time a wild animal bites a human in Peoria, it must be euthanized. A sample of brain tissue is transported to the Animal Disease Laboratory to be tested for the presence of the virus.
Cats and dogs over 4 months of age must be vaccinated against rabies once a year. Three-year vaccinations are also available. You will receive a rabies vaccination certificate and a rabies tag from your veterinarian. This is your rabies registration. Keep your certificate in a safe place. It is your proof of rabies vaccination status. Attach the tag to your pet's collar for identification and proof of vaccination. Your pet must wear the tag.
Citations for failure to vaccinate your pet, register your pet, or display your pet's rabies tag require a court appearance. Fines start at $75.
There are also rabies vaccines approved for ferrets, horses, swine, sheep, and cattle. While not required by law, they could save your pet's life.