Growing up on a blacktop road in Lindale, Texas brought many outdoors adventures for me as a kid. Sure, I loved to be inside in front of my Nintendo Entertainment System but I also loved to gather up my G.I. Joes and Transformers and head down to the creek in my grandmother's pasture behind mom and dad's house. One thing I luckily never ran into was a rabid animal of some kind. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case for 13 East Texans so far in 2023 as they ran across a rabid animal that passed the uncurbable virus onto them.

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What is rabies?

Rabies is an uncurbable and deadly, but very treatable, virus that can infect any mammal, including humans. The common animals to have rabies are raccoons, foxes, bats and skunks. But it is very plausible to contract rabies from a cat, cow or a dog. Usually, rabies is transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. If it very difficult to determine if an animal has rabies just by looking at them. However, there could be some subtle signs that may indicate an animal is infected like being overly aggressive, excessive drooling, acting timid or shy, moving slowly or even allowing you to get close to them. If you are bitten by what you believe to be a rabid animal, first wash the area with soap and water then seek medical attention. Your doctor will perform some tests to determine if further action is needed.

Remember that rabies is a medical urgency but not an emergency. - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

While there is no cure for rabies, if treated early enough, it can prevent the spread of the virus. There is a period of a few weeks that the virus will be in its incubation period before symptoms will be present. It's in this time that rabies can be treated. Once symptoms are present, treatment can no longer be administered. If untreated, the rabies virus will attach itself to the central nervous system which will then attack the brain which could lead to death.

East Texas Cases in 2023

So far in 2023, 13 cases have been reported in East Texas. The individuals who contracted the virus got it from three animals, bat, bovine and skunk. The skunk was the most prevalent with seven cases, followed by bats with four cases and two bovine cases. You can see the map of reported cases in all of Texas and where they came from in the graph below:

Reported Rabies Cases in Texas - dshs.texas.gov
Reported Rabies Cases in Texas - dshs.texas.gov
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Did they survive or die?

It is not known which humans who contracted rabies in Texas survived or died. That's irrelevant, though. It is only important to remember that if you believe to have been bitten by an animal with rabies, see a doctor as soon as possible. If caught quickly, your chances of survival are almost 100 percent.

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