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Redwood Veterinary Clinic - Santa Rosa, CA - Understanding Rabies
With all the media attention that rabies gets, you may be surprised to learn that this disease is much less of a danger to Americans now than ever before. Thanks to widespread pet vaccinations, 100% effective post-exposure treatment, and the relative rarity of an undetected bite by a rabid animal, the number of human deaths in the United States due to rabies has declined to an average of only one or two per year (compared to 55,000 per year in Asia).
The best ways to guard against rabies:
People and Rabies
People who contracted rabies in the United States were mostly infected by a bat. Most didn't even know they were bitten. Some may have been sleeping when bitten. Others handled a bat bare-handed without realizing they'd been potentially exposed to rabies. But don't panic over every bat sighting. Less than one-half of one percent of all bats in North America carries rabies.
Although raccoon suffer from rabies more than any other mammal in the United States (about 35 percent of all animal rabies cases), only one human death from the raccoon strain of rabies has been recorded in the United States.
Despite the long odds of contracting rabies, the remote possibility of infection exists and should not be taken lightly.
Interesting fact: Federal and state wildlife officials have been vaccinating wildlife in many regions over the past 15 years. They distribute vaccine-laden baits that the target animals eat and thereby vaccinate themselves. Right now, oral rabies vaccination of wildlife focuses on halting the spread of specific types of rabies in targeted carrier species. Next, it's hoped that this tool can shrink the diseases' range.
(taken from an article written by The Humane Society of the United States)