Rabies (Lyssa) ICD-9 071; ICD-10 A82
General Information & Resources
Rabies is a virus that affects the central nervous system. You can be infected with the rabies virus if you are bitten by an animal that has the disease. You can also get rabies if the saliva from a rabid animal contacts your mucous membranes or any open wounds you might have. If you have such contact with a rabid animal, only a series of shots can keep you from getting the disease.
History and facts about rabies.
- Rabies/La Rabia
Rabies educational document in English and Spanish
- Facts of Interest Pertaining to Rabies (PDF)
8 things you may not know about rabies – but should
- The Many Faces of Rabies - Elsevier Connect
Categories of animals and types of behaviors associated with rabies
- Rabies: A Comprehensive Interview with Pamela Wilson
Podcast on various topics pertaining to rabies (podcast may be blocked by some networks)
Other Useful Rabies Information
This document has been designed to be a guide for medical care providers (physicians, nurses, pharmacists and laboratory workers) in the evaluation of possible exposures of humans to rabies virus and in the treatment of probable exposures. Information valuable to veterinarians and animal control officers who are submitting animal specimens for rabies evaluation is also included.
Rabies Prevention in Texas includes sections on: rabies biologicals; management of biting animals; collection and submission of animal specimens for rabies testing at the DSHS laboratory in Austin; list of and contact information for DSHS-designated laboratories; management of domestic animals exposed to rabid animals; rabies post-exposure prophylaxis for humans with a guide for determining if it is necessary, plus a list of and contact information for laboratories that provide RFFIT (rabies titer) testing; pre-exposure vaccination for humans; adverse reactions, precautions, and contraindications pertaining to rabies vaccine; distribution points for human rabies biologicals; and contact information for the Regional Zoonosis Control offices and the Zoonosis Control Branch.
Rabies Prevention in Texas (PDF format) has been placed on the Internet so that professionals involved with evaluating and treating possible human exposures to rabies virus will have the needed information available to them everyday, twenty-four hours a day.
- Animal Rabies Prevention and Control Compendium and Resources
from the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians
- Oral Rabies Vaccination Program (ORVP)
Send comments, suggestions or questions regarding this document to The Vet.
- Rabies Vaccine for People: Information pertaining to the availability of rabies biologicals for people.
- Texas laws pertaining to rabies vaccinations for animals:
- Rabies vaccination protocols for animals and people:
- Oral Rabies Vaccination Program (ORVP):
- The Oral Rabies Vaccination Programs. Program information, statistics and field updates.
Texas periodically experiences outbreaks of rabies in skunks. Certain parts of Texas are currently experiencing such an outbreak.
What you should know:
- Don't handle any wildlife, regardless of whether it appears healthy or sick.
- Teach your children to never touch wildlife.
- Have your pet vaccinated to protect him or her against rabies.
- Rabies is transmitted through saliva, most typically in bites. You cannot get rabies by being sprayed by a skunk.
- If you or pet get bitten, immediately wash the wound with soap and water. Seek medical assistance as soon as possible to determine whether treatment is needed to prevent rabies. Once symptoms of rabies begin, the disease is fatal.
The state of Texas requires that dogs and cats be vaccinated against rabies by 4 months of age. The vaccination must be administered by a licensed veterinarian. Additionally, when traveling with a dog or cat, have in your possession a rabies vaccination certificate that was signed by the veterinarian who administered the vaccination. Check with your veterinarian about other vaccines that are available for a wide range of diseases in these animals.
For an animal to be considered currently vaccinated against rabies in rabies exposure situations, at least 30 days must have elapsed since the initial vaccination and the time elapsed since the most recent vaccination must not have exceeded the recommended interval for booster vaccination as established by the manufacturer. Local jurisdictions may require more frequent rabies vaccination intervals.
All dogs and cats 12 weeks of age or older that are being transported into Texas must have been vaccinated against rabies and not be overdue. Proof of vaccination must be provided via a rabies vaccination certificate (or pet passport) signed by the attending veterinarian. Veterinarians in Texas are restricted to using vaccines approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); however, for entry purposes only, dogs and cats traveling into the state from another country may be inoculated against rabies with killed, modified live, or recombinant vaccine. Once in Texas, if a USDA-approved vaccine was not used or the veterinarian who administered it was not licensed to practice veterinary medicine in the United States, compliance must be achieved.
Although not required by law, it is recommended that livestock (especially those that have frequent contact with humans), domestic ferrets, and wolf-dog hybrids be vaccinated against rabies. Again, check with your veterinarian about other available vaccines for these animals.
Additional information is also available:
Rabies Pamphlet: Rabies and How it can be Controlled
Man and all mammals are susceptible to rabies, which is almost invariably fatal.
The disease is transmitted by an infected animal's biting or licking. The virus enters the victim's body through a break in the skin, or rarely, through mucous membranes (eyes, nose, throat).
Rabies affects the central nervous system. It may take from ten days to over a year to develop; however, exposed people can be successfully treated before the development of symptoms by a series of vaccinations.
Rabies infection is detected by laboratory examination of the suspect brain tissue.
Wildlife rabies is
Bold, "friendly", or "apparently tame" wild animals.
- Night animals, like skunks and foxes, that are seen in the daytime.
- Pets that have difficulty walking, eating, or drinking.
- Signs of excitement or viciousness in normally quiet animals.
- Animals that tear at or scratch an old wound until it bleeds.
- Cattle that "strain" for long periods.
- Bats that are unable to fly.
In the early stages, the personality of pets may change. A normally friendly dog may stay alone, another may begin to seek more attention. Some animals scratch at the place the virus entered their bodies.
Later, symptoms follow a "furious" pattern, a "dumb" (paralytic) pattern, or a combination of both.
"Furious" symptoms include excitement, viciousness, roaming, unusual noises, and a tendency to attack anything attracting the animal's attention. Such animals may snap at anything, including themselves. They tend to "drool", and their saliva may be mixed with blood. They may swallow objects such as stones and sticks. These symptoms progress to paralysis and, eventually death.
"Dumb" symptoms include difficulty in chewing, swallowing, and drinking, or trouble walking. An animal may not be able to close its mouth. People have been exposed by trying to clear the throats of such animals, which may seem to be choking. Paralysis spreads throughout the body until death. Parts paralyzed by rabies are limp, not rigid or stiff.
A veterinarian should be consulted immediately when any of the above signs are first noted.
If bitten by an animal, treat the bite as if the animal were rabid, and follow these steps. They may save your life.
- Identify the animal - by kind, size, color, and place. Caution children to seek the help of a policeman, school guard or other adult.
- Immediately cleanse the wound thoroughly by washing with soap and water. Rinse well and disinfect with alcohol, iodine, or other disinfectants. This lessens the chance of contracting rabies by removing or inactivating virus in the wound.
- See a doctor immediately after washing the wound. The physician will decide on need for treatment to prevent rabies.
- Report incident to the local health officer and animal control agency.
- If possible, have the biting dog or cat tested for rabies or placed under observation. If it is alive and normal after ten days of observation, the animal was not infective for rabies at the time of the bite.
THE TEN DAY OBSERVATION PERIOD IS NOT VALID FOR ANIMALS OTHER THAN DOGS, CATS, AND DOMESTIC FERRETS BECAUSE NO INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE AS TO WHEN VIRUS IS EXCRETED IN THE SALIVA OF OTHER ANIMALS.
Have dogs and cats over four months of age vaccinated by a veterinarian.
- Register and license all owned dogs and cats.
- Impound all stray dogs and cats.
- Appoint an animal control officer and provide pound or shelter facilities.
- Euthanize and test all biting dogs and cats or quarantine them for daily observation by a veterinarian for a period of ten days.
- Dogs and cats bitten by a known rabid animal should be destroyed immediately. If the owner is unwilling to have this done, the unvaccinated animal should be vaccinated immediately and placed in strict isolation for 90 days, and a "booster" vaccination given in the third and eighth weeks of isolation. If the animal is currently vaccinated, it should be revaccinated immediately and restrained (leashing and confinement) for 45 days.
Stock No. 7-15 3/03
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Disease Surveillance and Epidemiology
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Disease Surveillance and Epidemiology
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