Aspen Skunk

Skunk Rabies Research

Rabies Facts

FactIn the United States, an average of one person per year dies from rabies.Worldwide however, approximately 45,000 to 60,000 people die each year from rabies.The reason for the relatively low number of deaths in the US is because of an aggressive vaccination program for dogs, cats and ferrets.This statistic shows how important it is to vaccinate all pets, not just dogs, cats and ferrets, but all mammalian pets.

FactRabies is found worldwide except for a few islands, Australia, and Antarctica.

FactOf wildlife species in the US, wild raccoons account for the largest number of rabies cases.Wild skunks account for the second largest number ofrabies cases in wildlife in the US.

FactAll mammals are believed to be susceptible to the rabies virus, but reservoirs are confined to Carnivores (dogs, foxes, coyotes, cats, raccoons, skunks, mongooses, etc) and Chirpotera (bats).

FactMore people die each year from dog attacks than die from rabies.In 1999 alone, 11 people died from dog attacks, and only 1 from rabies.

FactThe post-exposure treatment for humans is called the Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).It consists of human rabies immune globulin and five doses of vaccine.Correct and timely administration of the PEP provides nearly complete protection from the development of clinical symptoms of rabies (and death) in humans.

FactCurrently, the only effective rabies tests must be performed on the brain after death with the direct fluorescent antibody (dFA) test.There are a battery of tests that can be used for ante mortem (prior to death) diagnosis of rabies in humans.However, to date, these tests have proven to be unreliable.The Humane Society in the US is currently looking for an effective ante mortem test.

FactRabies virus may occur in saliva before clinical signs begin.Generally in experimental rabies in skunks, virus occurs in saliva at or slightly before onset of clinical signs and persists for several days (maximum observed is 6 days).The skunk may harbor the virus for a long period of time, but until it reaches the salivary glands, skunks can not transmit the virus by biting.Clinical signs ofrabies in skunks can last from 1-18 days before the animal dies.Skunks can not excrete the virus in saliva and remain clinically free of symptoms for long periods of time, nor have skunks recovered from clinical signs and continued to excrete the virus.

FactThere are actually more polio cases each year than there are rabies in humans.

For more information about Rabies in the United States, visit the Center for Disease Controls Rabies information site at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/