Rabies is a deadly viral infection that will kill a person or animal who does not get treatment soon after exposure. It’s very rare in the United States, with fewer than 20,000 cases occurring annually.
Rabies is transmitted through bites. The transmission of rabies occurs as the viral load passes from the dog’s saliva into a victim’s blood or tissues. It’s possible, though unlikely, for rabies to transfer from saliva from a dog licking its owner or a wound on a person.
What should you do if you suspect you’ve been exposed to rabies?
An obviously rabid animal is usually easy to observe, as they are fearful of water and may act disoriented or be aggressive. Some have seizures and overreact to sights and sounds around them. Animals with rabies tend to “foam at the mouth” due to them having excess salivation.
No one in America has passed away from a dog, ferret or cat held in quarantine for at least 10 days. That being said, the symptoms of rabies can appear sooner than 10 days. Once they appear, rabies is usually deadly.
Instead of waiting, it is smart to go to the hospital immediately after a bite to have it attended to. You may need anti-rabies prophylaxis to prevent the virus from taking hold.
If you are exposed to rabies, don’t wait to get help. The tests and medical care you get after a bite should be covered by the pet’s owner or their homeowner’s insurance, in some cases.