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The fox that bit Representative Ami Bera, a journalist, and at least 7 other people in Washington, DC on Tuesday has been euthanized and tested positive for the rabies virus, Fox News reported.
Health experts told Fox News it’s vital that anyone bitten by an animal seek medical attention immediately and try to have the animal tested for rabies, if possible.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated on their website that rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus. It affects the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord. The Federal Health Agency said that once symptoms of rabies appear, the disease is “almost always fatal”.
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Dr Fred Davis is the associate chair of emergency medicine at Northwell Health System on Long Island in New York and told Fox News that rabies is a fatal disease and individuals should seek treatment immediately after being bitten or scratched by a wild animal. Davis said bite victims should receive treatment before they show symptoms of the disease, which can include fever, headache and excessive salivation.
According to the CDC, early symptoms of the virus, besides fever and headache, may also include weakness or discomfort and a tingling or itching sensation at the bite site. The health organization also said the disease can progress and “Within days an infected person may become anxious, confused and agitated. As a person becomes sicker they may become delirious, hallucinate, being unable to sleep and unable to swallow or quench their thirst.”
Some health experts have told Fox News that in severe cases, an individual may exhibit hydrophobia, a “fear of water”, which is triggered by extreme pain the patient feels when trying to swallow. liquids, including water and saliva.
Davis told Fox News, “Rabies is a virus that is spread through the saliva of infected animals. This usually occurs through a bite or the infected animal’s saliva coming into contact with an open wound.”
Davis also said: “If you are bitten by an unfamiliar animal, especially if that animal is acting oddly (a nocturnal animal during the day) or a dog that cannot be monitored for unusual behavior, then you should seek medical attention. emergency.”
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The CDC said the virus is primarily found in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Worldwide, people are commonly infected with rabies through dog bites, the CDC said on its website.
Davis said initial treatment usually includes cleaning the wound and then treating the individual with PEP, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
Post-exposure prophylaxis consists of a dose of human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) and rabbies shot given on the day of exposure to rabies. Another dose of vaccine is then given again on days three, seven and 14 after the bite, according to the CDC website.
“For people who have never been vaccinated against rabies before, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) should always include administration of both HRIG and rabies vaccine,” the CDC said and also noted that “the combination of HRIG and vaccine is recommended for both bite and non-bite exposures, regardless of the interval between exposure and the start of treatment.”
The CDC has also warned travelers bitten by an animal abroad to return to the United States or another region for treatment, as vaccinations and medications for rabies exposure are not available everywhere in the country. the world.
Dr. Robin Sturtz, a veterinarian and director of the Vet Tech program at Long Island University in New York, told Fox News that rabies is a serious concern when it comes to animal bites. “There are less than a handful of rabies survivors when left untreated.”
Sturtz told Fox News that an animal with an advanced stage of rabies usually appears restless and disoriented. Sturtz also said nocturnal animals such as raccoons, which have the virus, will appear during the day and even approach humans. Sturtz said the best advice is to stay away from wild animals, call animal control, and admire them from afar. She also stressed the need for pet owners to have their dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies.
Sturtz also addressed the notion that animals with rabies “foam at the mouth”. The veterinarian explained to Fox News that the animals do not necessarily “lather at the mouth” but rather drool. Sturtz said the virus attacks the animal’s nervous system and it can’t swallow its saliva, so the animal starts drooling, which created this description.
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To protect yourself from rabies, the CDC has offered the following advice on its website:
Avoid animals when traveling
- Do not touch dogs, puppies or other animals. This goes for both stray animals and pets. Not all countries require pets to be vaccinated against rabies. Even animals that appear healthy can spread rabies.
- Supervise children closely, especially around dogs and puppies, cats and kittens, and wildlife.
- If you are traveling with your pet, watch it carefully. Do not allow it around other local pets or wild animals.
- Avoid bringing animals home to the United States. Dogs and cats can be infected with rabies but not show signs until days or months later. If you decide to bring an animal with you to the United States, be aware that CDC and USDA animal import regulations.
- If you are traveling to work with animals, bring and wear appropriate protective equipment.