What is rabies?

   Rabies is a disease found among wild and domestic animals. It is sometimes called hydrophobia, which means "fear of water," because rabies causes paralysis of throat muscles, and the victim, although thirsty, cannot swallow.
   In dumb rabies the infected animal is listless, dull-eyed and unable to swallow. The voice is hoarse, the mouth hangs open and the jaw drips saliva. There is no indication of unfriendliness, and many times the disease is not recognized until infection has passed on through a break in the skin of the animal's handler. Furious rabies is easier to recognize because the infected animal, in addition to hoarseness and slobbering, wanders off and becomes violent.
   Rabies among wild animals, fox, bats, skunks, and squirrels, is referred to as sylvatic rabies. In domestic animals it is known as urban rabies. All pets should be given anti-rabies vaccinations for protection of the pet and the owner. Health departments make every effort to curb the disease by vaccinating stray animals, and issuing dog licenses. This dread disease can be transmitted to any unvaccinated pet by wild animals.
   The rabies' virus lives in the salivary glands of the infected animal and can be passed on to humans through a bite. The virus travels by nerve trunks to the central nervous system where it finally causes death to the nerve cells. The period between the entry of the rabies' virus into the body and the first signs of the disease may be from four to eight weeks.
   For humans exposed to rabies, Pasteur anti-rabies vaccine is administered for a period of 21 days for bites involving the head, and fourteen days for bites elsewhere on the body.