Friday, June 25, 2010

Raccoons aren't your cute, cuddly friends

As with pretty much everything in life, there's always something that seems cute but really just wants to bite you, and spending times in nature is pretty much the prime example. Nothing is your friend when you're truly immersed in nature; maybe your dog, but your dog is not going to get a good face-licking by the skunk that wandered into your tent.

Something to be acutely aware of when dealing with animals is the rare, yet extremely deadly rhabdovirus. Rhabdovirus is the causative agent of Rabies, which ranks very high in the worst ways to die. . .ever.

Rabies is transmissible by animal bites (pretty much the only way), and the typical culprits are raccoons, skunks, and bats. It's rare, but aerosolized virus can be a problem in bat caves. Basically, any time you get bit by an animal, rabies should be considered and treatment should be sought after!

Rabies works as such:
1. gets into your body through a wound; the larger the wound, the worse the infection
2. gets into your nerves, the closer to the head, the worse off you are
3. travels up the nerve to your brain
4. fever, nausea, vomiting, inability to swallow water, coma
4. kills you.

Here's the deal, you have anywhere from 1-120 days for rabies to start to work, so any bite should be considered a serious threat. IF AND ONLY IF medical treatment is sought early, can a victim be saved. Through a series of vaccinations, rabies can be stopped in the early stages. Once it makes it into your brain and the symptoms start, you're hosed.

Take home lesson? Don't trust any animals, especially ones behaving oddly. If a raccoon is out during the day, staggers around, and approaches you, it's highly likely that the lil bugger is the spawn of satan and wants to give you rabies. The whole foaming at the mouth thing? Not so much.

Just be careful, and anytime you've been bit, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

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