Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of humans and other domestic animals. Rabies is usually spread from one animal to another (and to humans) through a bite. The virus is transmitted through the infected animal's saliva. It is always fatal in humans, but can be prevented if the individual receives a series of shots after being bitten by the rabid animal. Immediate washing of a bite wound with soap and water can also play an important role in prevention of this dread disease.
Rabies vaccinations programs for dogs and cats and public education about rabies has been crucial in making this disease a rare occurrence in humans in the United States. Usually there are fewer than five human cases of rabies in the United States each year.
The Vector-Borne Disease Prevention Program will transport rabies susceptible wild mammals that are involved with a possible human exposure to the Nevada State Department of Agriculture Animal Diseases Laboratory for rabies testing. If the animal is still alive, the staff will undertake capturing it. It is important to report any animal bite or other possible exposure from wild animals that are considered high-risk rabies species to the Health Department so that precautionary steps can be initiated to prevent illness to humans and domestic animals.