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The fox that bit Rep. Ami Bera, a reporter, 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 that it is vital that a person who is bitten by an animal seek medical treatment immediately and try to have the animal tested for rabies, if possible.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated on its website that rabies is a deadly 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 in Long Island, New York, and he told Fox News that rabies is a deadly disease and that people should seek treatment immediately after being bitten or scratched by a wild animal. Davis said bite victims should be treated before they show symptoms of illness, which can include fever, headaches and excessive salivation.
According to the CDC, early symptoms of the virus, in addition to fever and headache, can also include weakness or discomfort and a prickling or prickling sensation at the site of the bite. The health organization also said that the disease can progress and “within a matter of days, an infected person can become anxious, confused and agitated. As a person becomes ill, they may become delusional, hallucinate, unable to sleep, and unable to swallow or quench your thirst.”
Some health experts told Fox News that in severe cases, an individual may exhibit hydrophobia, a “fear of water,” which is triggered by the extreme pain a patient experiences 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. Typically this will occur from a bite or saliva from the infected animal coming into contact with an open wound.”
Davis also said: “If you are bitten by an unknown animal, especially if that animal is acting strangely (a nocturnal animal during the day) or a dog that cannot be observed for unusual behavior, then you should seek emergency care.”
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The CDC said the virus is predominantly found in wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Globally, people typically become infected with rabies from dog bites, the CDC said on its website.
Davis said that initial treatment usually includes cleaning the wound and then treating the individual with PEP, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
Post-exposure prophylaxis consists of one dose of human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) and rabies vaccine administered on the day of rabies exposure. Then another dose of the vaccine is 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 HRIG and rabies vaccine,” the CDC stated, also noting that “the combination is recommended.” of HRIG and the vaccine for both bites and not. -exposures by bite, regardless of the interval between the exposure and the start of treatment”.
The CDC also warned travelers who are bitten by an animal while abroad to return to the United States or another area for treatment, since vaccines and medications for rabies exposure are not available worldwide. 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 survivors of rabies when it goes untreated.”
Sturtz told Fox News that an animal with late-stage rabies usually appears agitated and disoriented. Sturtz also said that nocturnal animals like raccoons, which have the virus, will show up during the day and even come close to humans. Sturtz said the best advice is to stay away from wild animals, call animal control and watch them from afar. He also emphasized the need for pet owners to vaccinate their dogs and cats against rabies.
Sturtz also addressed the notion that animals with rabies “foam at the mouth.” The vet explained to Fox News that the animals don’t necessarily “foam at the mouth,” but instead 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 offers the following tips on its website:
Avoid animals when traveling
- Do not touch dogs, puppies or other animals. This applies to both stray dogs 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 travel with your pet, watch it closely. Do not allow it to be near other local pets or wild animals.
- Avoid bringing animals home to the United States. Dogs and cats can become infected with rabies but show no signs for several days to months. If you decide to bring an animal to the United States, keep in mind CDC and USDA animal import regulations.
- If you travel to work with animals, please bring and wear the proper protective gear.