In the United States, 6 viral strains of rabies [RAY-bees] are carried by bats, and
5 viral strains are carried by land mammals, i.e., 2 fox strains, 2 skunk strains,
and the raccoon strain. All strains of rabies are 100% fatal; however, rabies are
not easily transmitted, and they are easily prevented.  Rabies is an acute viral disease of
the nervous system of warm-blooded animals. The rabies virus reaches the brain through
the nerves, reproduces, then travels back through the nerves to the rest of the body.
Once the rabies virus reaches the salivary glands, it is released into the saliva.
It produces submissive or violent behavior before eventual death.  Following exposure to rabies (normally
through the bite of a rabid animal), a rabies post-exposure treatment -- which is
a vaccination of the rabies immune globulin administered around the wound and in
the buttocks, followed by 5 vaccinations in the arm (not the stomach) over the next
28 days -- will prevent the development of rabies, if infection symptoms have
not already occurred. Those symptoms are: first, fever, anorexia, headache,
lethargy, numbness or tingling at the site of the bite, then, hyperactivity,
disorientation, hallucinations, seizures, hydrophobia (intense fear of water), paralysis,
and finally coma. No symptoms occur during the incubation period for the rabies
virus, which, in humans, may be as little as 9 days, usually is 20-90 days, but can
even be as long as several years. 
Raccoon strain rabies is just as deadly to the raccoon as it it is to untreated humans,
but the latency period before symptoms become active in both raccoons and humans
is about two months -- and sometimes up to six months -- which is enough time for
a diseased raccoon to mate and produce a litter of rabid raccoons.  Gestation -- conception
to delivery -- in a raccoon is 63 days. In that time, 3 or 4 baby raccoons -- cubs
or kits -- are born. Sometimes there may be as many as 7. Raccoon cubs forage for
food with their mothers at 10-12 weeks old, and the female raccoon reaches sexual
maturity at one year.  Animal protection organizations such as Animal People have followed the
plight of the raccoon, as the public noticed a resurgence of raccoon rabies in 1997.
Asian fur markets were giving $8 per pelt in 1994, and were paying as much as $21
per pelt in the spring of 1997. Trapping and killing of the raccoon to stop the spread
of raccoon rabies, according to Animal People, has not worked, i.e., "Hunters
killed as many more [raccoons]. Yet rabies kept spreading because the killing both
obliged raccoons to wander farther in search of mates and opened habitat, encouraging
large litters... Dr. William Winkler of the National Centers for Disease Control
warned in the National Academy of Sciences' handbook Control of Rabies: 'Persistent
trapping or poisoning campaigns as a means to rabies control should be abolished.
There is no evidence that these costly and politically attractive programs reduce
either wildlife reservoirs or rabies incidence." 
How can we reasonably stop the spread of raccoon rabies? Both the United States Department
of Agriculture (USDA) and the respective state departments of health have participated
in programs to eliminate raccoon rabies through an Oral Rabies Vaccine -- usually
in a rural setting. Vaccinating wild raccoons, instead of killing them is the most
effective way to stop raccoon rabies. An Oral Rabies Vaccine bait (dyed pink) is
inserted within a compressed block of fishmeal and fish oil, which is very attractive
to raccoons. Dropped from planes and distributed by land vehicles, the bait is quickly
consumed within 5 days. Once consumed by the raccoon, antibodies will develop within
2-3 weeks to protect the newly vaccinated raccoon against exposure from rabid raccoons.
The spread of rabies is greatly reduced by ever greater numbers of raccoons that
have been successfully vaccinated. Health department professionals recommend pet
owners to keep their dogs and cats inside or on leashes, so only the raccoons can
consume the bait. Small quantities consumed by the family pet will not harm the pet,
but people with immunodeficiency may be prone to a local virus infection. Rinsing
with soap and water can prevent infection. Otherwise, contact your local health department,
if exposed to the vaccine.  Though raccoon rabies has but rarely ever resulted in a fatal case of human
rabies, Edward P. Hurley III -- a 25-year-old electrical engineer from Northern Virginia,
who enjoyed jogging -- died of raccoon rabies on March 10, 2003. After developing
a low-grade fever, he couldn't seem to shake the flu-like symptoms for 10 days. On
day 11, his words slurred and he couldn't keep his balance. A coma resulted four
days later, then death. Edward P. Hurley III became the first and only person in
the United States ever to die of raccoon rabies. We need to be more careful about
our surroundings, as the suburbs are pushing further and further into formerly wild
habitats; but admittedly, raccoons have become adept urban dwellers, as well. 
Advice from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for "Rabies Prevention"
(1) Observe a respectful distance from wild animals.
(2) Do not feed wild animals. (If necessary, eliminate bird feeders.)
(3) Secure food and garbage to prevent wild animals access to them.
(4) Only place trash out on the same day that it will be picked up.
(5) Seal openings in attics, basements, porches, sheds, and barns.
(6) Cap chimneys with screens.
(7) Vaccinate all pets.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only 5 people have ever survived
a viral rabies infection after symptoms have appeared. In a November 24, 2004 article
in Medical News Today, "Girl survives rabies without a vaccine, first
case ever," the first medical case ever of a patient surviving rabies -- after
the onset of infection -- occurred at Wisconsin's Children's Hospital, according
to Dr. Rodnay Willoughty. Jeanna Giese, a 15-year-old girl, had been bitten by a
rabid bat at a church service, and she did not seek treatment until 5 weeks later,
when symptoms began to appear in mid-October. Four hours after diagnosing her condition,
with her parents' permission, doctor's attempted a new technique to attack the virus
-- a cocktail of two anesthetic and two viral drugs. The exact ingredients of the
potentially, revolutionary treatment for rabies could not be revealed until published
in a medical journal, as required by medical protocol.  She was put into a medically induced
coma for a week, kept in intensive care for two months, and returned home on New
Year's Day (January 1, 2005). The Fond du Lac, Wisconsin teenager reported herself
as "fine" to the press on her 16th birthday -- June 6, 2005. 
It should be noted that drug cocktails are becoming more and more prevalent in the
treatment of viral conditions, e.g., HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). And, spokespersons,
such as Magic Johnson, for GlaxoSmithKline, a major drug company, have effectively
increased the awareness that drug cocktails are useful in dealing with viral infections.
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