World Rabies Day: what to know in North Dakota

Established in 2007, this day helps raise awareness about the disease.
Established in 2007, this day helps raise awareness about the disease.(KFYR)
Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 6:32 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - MINOT, N.D. – Monday, Sept. 28, is World Rabies Day. Established in 2007, this day helps raise awareness about the disease.

This year the C.D.C. is focusing on three main goals: eliminating rabies spread by dogs to reach zero human deaths by 2030, spreading awareness at all levels globally, and pushing rabies vaccination as the cornerstone of rabies prevention.

Globally, 59,000 people a year are killed by rabies. In the U.S., death by rabies is rare due to animal control and vaccination, but that does not mean that the disease is nonexistent.

In North Dakota alone, there are two large groups of wildlife that often contract and spread the disease.

“Closer to 90% of cases in a given year will be in skunk and bats, with the majority being in skunks. We do, however, see a spread of cases in domestic animals, including cats, cattle, horses and dogs,” said NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Director Brett Webb.

Rabies is typically contracted by a bite, but it can also be contracted through saliva and broken skin.

Sometimes knowing if you even got bite can be tricky.

“You can’t necessarily see bites from bats. They are generally pretty painless. So that is definitely a concern that the bat may have been rabid, especially if it is found in a house or a residential area,” said North Dakota Department of Health Epidemiologist Laura Cronquist.

If you suspect you have been in contact with a wild animal, health officials recommend seeing a doctor as soon as possible. Rabies has a 100% fatality rate once a person starts showing symptoms.

“It’s really important that you do that in a timely manner because once clinical signs start to develop it’s too late. At that point there is no treatment,” said Cronquist.

Some of the symptoms of rabies include fever and headache. As it progresses, symptoms can include paralysis, delirium and eventually death.

For this year’s theme, researchers and health officials want to encourage pet owners to especially be aware of the danger of rabies and to keep up with regular vaccinations. Also, educate young children on the importance of not petting wildlife and to always stay away from animals they do not know.

In addition to staying away from unknown animals, the C.D.C. also recommends discussing with health care professionals about the rabies risks when traveling, especially overseas where prevention and treatment may not be as easy to find.



COURTESY: ND Game and Fish Department

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