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The normal route of exposure to rabies is through a bite or scratch from an infected animal. Exposure may also occur if saliva from an infected animal enters a bleeding open wound or comes in contact with an individuals eyes, mouth or nose. If you are bitten by any animal, even your own pet, wash the wound thoroughly with lots of soap and warm water, then contact your health care provider and local health agency for further evaluation.
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Behavioral changes characterize the signs and symptoms of an animal that is infected with rabies. Symptoms at first, can be so subtle they are not recognized as signs of rabies infection, especially because the infected animal may look healthy. Behavioral changes such as the following are all signs you might observe in a sick animal:
Wild animals may lose their fear of natural enemies or people and appear friendly. A normally friendly pet may become withdrawn and irritable. As the disease progresses, the animal may become aggressive, snapping at anything in its path, you may witness "frothing" at the mouth and convulsions which lead to death. This disease also mimics many other animal diseases such as the following and can only be diagnosed by a lab:
"If its not your own, leave it alone." is a good rule of thumb. Don't feed, touch, or adopt stray/wild animals. Keep your pets and valuable livestock vaccinated against rabies. Pets too young to be vaccinated, should be kept indoors. Don't allow pets to roam at large without supervision. Don't invite wildlife to your home or yard. Keep your property free of foods that will attract unwanted wild or stray animals. Always feed your pets indoors. Capping your chimney is an easy and inexpensive way to keep out unwanted guests. If a wild animal is found on your property, bring your children and pets inside and let it wander off on its own. This may take a while, but they will leave. If you do not want to wait for them to leave on their own, you can choose to contact a nuisance wildlife trapper who will come and remove the animal for a fee.