Beware Of Rabid Animals

rabiesMost Tennesseans have never seen an animal with rabies or known a family who has lost a loved one to the deadly disease. While that’s a testament to vigorous statewide rabies vaccination efforts that started in 1954, the Tennessee Department of Health is reminding residents this disease could make a comeback if people become complacent.
In the five years before dog vaccinations were required in our state, ten residents died from rabies, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. The last human rabies death in Tennessee was in 2002.
City and county health departments across Tennessee are now offering rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats. The vaccinations are important to protect not only pets, but to provide a barrier between wildlife rabies and humans. In 2013, there were 37 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in 18 Tennessee counties; the majority of those, 19, were skunks.
Left untreated, the rabies virus spreads through the central nervous system. First symptoms of rabies in people are fever, headache and weakness or fatigue. As the disease progresses, additional symptoms appear including sleeplessness, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, hallucinations, excitability and more. Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these latter symptoms.
In addition to rabies, wild animals may have a variety of other diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to pets, livestock and humans.
Learn more about rabies online at http://health.state.tn.us/FactSheets/rabies.htm and www.cdc.gov/rabies/.