Rabies: dogs are biggest threat and symptoms to look out for

Rabies is rare in the United States but there is a real threat and for humans the biggest threat comes from dogs. Dogs are the go-between, between people and the carrier which is usually a raccoon, skunk, fox or coyote. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States 99% of human cases of rabies which prove fatal come from dogs (source: Popular science – popsci.com).

Dogs are more a threat than cats for rabies

Dogs are more of a threat to humans as a go-between than cats concerning rabies. Photo: Royalty Free.

As dogs act as a go-between they more efficiently pass on the disease to people. Dogs are more likely to have contact with the animals, mentioned above, who carry the disease, and the humans who care for the dogs.

Apparently not all animals infected with rabies show what some people might consider to be classic symptoms such as anger, aggression and irritability. Many animals simply become sick and look sick and lethargic. Some rabies infected animals might drool and act more tame than they would normally act.

We are told that a rabies infected animal might behave less nervously around people. This can lead to docility or aggression depending upon the individual dog. The advice is to not approach a family pet if it is a dog that’s drooling and calm instead of its usual energetic self.

A direct transmission of the rabies virus from an infected animal such as a skunk to a human is “incredibly rare” in the United States. There is a report of a Virginian woman being bitten by a dog in India which carried the rabies virus transmitting it to the woman who eventually died. She was the 10th person to die in the US of rabies over the past 10 years.

I’m going to hand you over to others now if you want to read about how to deal with being bitten by an animal infected with rabies because that’s a subject for the experts and beyond the scope of this short article. However, I have an article on Post Exposure Prophylaxis and the cost of injections (staggeringly exorbitant).

The point that I wish to make, however, is that dogs rather than cats are far more dangerous to people in terms of a rabies transmission than cats. This goes against the advice I receive all the time from people who dislike cats and vilify the domestic or feral cat for being a health hazard. I wrote an article some time ago about the CDC misrepresenting information about rabid cats.

The other point that I’d like to make in this article is that the symptoms of rabies are not what some people always think they are. Dog owners should be particularly aware of the contents of this article.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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