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Rabies: What You Should Know for Your Pets and Livestock

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Rabies is a deadly disease of animals and humans. It is endemic in New Jersey and there are over 300 cases in the state every year. Rabies is a virus that attacks the central nervous system in mammals (warm-blooded animals). The virus is present primarily in the saliva, brain tissue, and spinal fluid of a rabid animal and is transmitted by a bite, contamination of an open cut, or through contact with mucus membranes (nose, mouth, eyes). Rabies typically results in encephalitis (swelling of the brain), which can result in paralysis, blindness, aggression, mood changes, and other symptoms. Left untreated, rabies causes death. There is no treatment for rabies. Rabies is almost always fatal once the animal or human is infected (only two (2) humans have survived rabies in the United States in 16 years). The best way to deal with this disease is by vaccinating animals.
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Deborah Cole
Jeannette Rea-Keywood
Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension
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rabies, pets, wildlife