It is a very serious disease, which can cause death to both the infected animal and the human, if it is not diagnosed and treated in time.
The rabies virus is a variant of the genus Lyssavirus, of the Rhabdoviridae family, which mainly attacks the nervous system and is transmitted through the saliva and bite of an infected animal.
Signs that tend to alert a pet are muscle tension, fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, malaise, loss of appetite, hypersensitivity to light and coughing spells.
In an advanced stage, symptoms include loss of mobility in the legs or facial muscles, sudden drooping of the lower jaw, changes in the vocal cords and abnormal barking, excess salivation in the form of foam around the muzzle, and difficulty swallowing food .
Profuse and frothy salivation, aggression, obsession with biting and insomnia could be signs of the most critical part of this disease.
There is no effective treatment for rabies. Therefore, as soon as a veterinarian confirms the diagnosis, they will follow the protocol established by the Puerto Rico Department of Health.
The first step in preventing this disease is vaccination, since it considerably reduces the chances that the pet will contract the disease.
The rabies vaccine must be administered annually by a licensed and registered veterinarian.
To prevent the virus, you should also avoid contact with objects that have been exposed to the saliva of animals suspected of having the disease. Caution is advised with mongooses, as they are the main vector of this virus in Puerto Rico and also with stray animals or animals that live on the street, since it is unlikely that they have been vaccinated.
If you suspect that your pet has this virus, consult your veterinarian. If you or a member of your family is bitten, wash the wound for 15 minutes with plenty of cold water and go to the nearest hospital.
(Editorial collaboration of the College of Veterinary Doctors of Puerto Rico. For more information, call 787-249-5304)