The temperature is rising and more of us are going outside.
Which means it’s time for North Dakota health professionals to remind you to be aware of rabies.
It’s a viral infection most often transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. The virus attacks the nervous system and causes swelling of the brain.
There are shots to help keep the rabies virus from establishing itself in your body, but the shots must be given as soon as possible after a bite.
Once the virus establishes itself, there are no treatments to stop its progression — and it is nearly always fatal.
But there are things you can do to reduce the risk of encounters with potentially rabid animals:
- Make sure you keep your pets up to date on their vaccinations
- Don’t keep wild animals as pets
- Don’t attract wild animals by leaving garbage or pet food outside.
“I know every year we hear about people keeping baby raccoons or skunks as pets and it is actually against the law in North Dakota for the reason that rabies is such a deadly disease and pose such a big threat to people,” said Laura Cronquist, an epidemiologist.
In 2018, 12 rabid animals were reported in North Dakota, including four skunks and three bats.
You can learn more about rabies at this page on the North Dakota Department of Health website (www.ndhealth.gov/disease/Rabies/) and at this page on the Mayo Clinic website (www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rabies/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351826.