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Rabies Information

What is it?

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.

How is it spread?

Animal bites are the main cause of infection. In rarer cases, however, the virus is passed on by scratches or, contact between infected blood or saliva and an open wound or the mucus membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth.

What kind of animals catch it?

All mammals are able to contract rabies. In Illinois, the virus is most common in bats and striped skunks. Unvaccinated dogs and cats are another high risk group.

What happens to sick animals?

Nearly all animals (including man) die once the virus infects the nervous system. People who are exposed to rabies can get vaccinations to keep the virus from spreading, but treatments must start immediately to be effective.

What are the signs?

An animal's behavior can change when it gets sick. Lab tests are needed to make a positive diagnosis, but be cautious of any animal that:

Can the same signs show up in animals with other diseases?

Yes. Canine Distemper, is more common than rabies, can cause some of the same signs as Rabies, especially in raccoons and gray foxes. While Canine Distemper does not affect humans, you should avoid contact with any sick animal. Treat every animal bite as a risk for rabies. Your life depends on it.

What should I do if I want to avoid problems?