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Signs of “Dumb Rabies” in Wildlife

Rabid animals are sometimes described as foaming at the mouth and attacking unprovoked. These are symptoms of rabies, but there’s actually more than one type of rabies, and the aggressive, foaming mouth kind is only of the “furious” form.

Other animals experience “dumb rabies,” also known as paralytic rabies. Dumb rabies is caused by the same virus presenting in a different way. Rather than acting aggressively, the wildlife may appear tame and comfortable around humans. However, this form of rabies is still dangerous if a person or another animal comes into contact with the infected animal.

How to Tell If a Wild Animal Has Dumb Rabies
In New York and New Jersey, there are three wild animals that are most often infected and at risk for transmitting dumb rabies. These are:

  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
  • Bats

Of these three, raccoons make up the majority of cases. Although rare, there is always a chance that any of these animals can transmit dumb rabies to a family pet or human.

The signs of dumb rabies are more subtle than the aggression and symptoms of furious rabies. Animals with dumb rabies are more likely to approach humans as well. This makes dumb rabies more likely to be undetected and prompt less caution around a wild animal.

The rabies virus attacks the nervous system, causing changes in behavior and leading to the fearlessness of dumb rabies. Since it also causes paralysis, there will be physical symptoms including:

  • Lethargy
  • Discoordination
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty Swallowing

Dumb rabies causes a gradual onset of paralysis the more advanced these signs are, the further along the disease is. Eventually they result in coma and death, usually by respiratory failure. Like all forms of rabies, dumb rabies can be transmitted through saliva to any other mammals who come into contact with the infected animal.

What to Do If You Find a Rabid Animal
Because rabies can present in a variety of different ways, it is best to never approach a wild animal and to keep your pets away as well. If you do notice an animal showing the symptoms of dumb rabies or the “furious” form, call an animal control professional immediately. NY and NJ Animal Control Trappers is available with 24/7 service to quickly neutralize any danger caused by a diseased animal.

By |2022-04-25T21:42:51+00:00March 17th, 2021|Humane Wildlife Control|Comments Off on Signs of “Dumb Rabies” in Wildlife

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