Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Rabies is not something I had to think about about when I was growing up in the UK. With the UK being an island with very strict quarantine laws, rabies was something that was basically non-existent. Although I was aware that rabies exists in North America, I hadn't particularly thought about it much here either. However, twice this spring my son has brought warnings home from school about rabies. Despite the fact that the warnings admit that it is very rare for anyone to die from rabies, we have been encouraged to put the following notice on our fridges:

Serious as rabies can be, with the very mild winter we have had this year, I think they are sending notices home about the wrong thing. The local media has been full of information about how it is likely to be a record tick season because the warm winter didn't kill off the ticks the way it usually does. Ticks carry Lyme disease, which is really quite unpleasant if not treated promptly. Another pest that is more likely to affect people this year is the tiger mosquito. Native to Asia, the tiger mosquito was first found in the USA in 1985.  It's smaller than most mosquitoes, but its bite causes more irritation than most and, unlike the mosquitoes we are used to around here, it dines throughout the day, not just at night. The tiger mosquito is capable of transmitting a variety of diseases including the potentially fatal West Nile virus.

Somehow, I think people are far more likely to be bitten by a mosquito or a tick than by a rabid bat or raccoon! It's also more likely that you would seek medical help if bitten by a raccoon or a bat, so, nasty as rabies is, to my mind the tick and the mosquito are significantly more dangerous.


Expat mum said...

We have to have the dog's rabies vaccine up to date before she can have a city license, and go to her pooch PE sessions. (Sorry if that sounds like a spoilt dog but we can't let them off the leash in Chicago therefore she doesn't get to run around otherwise.)
Here in downtown Chicago we have squirrels and rabbits running all over the streets, They look very sweet but many of them could be rabid and I'm forever warning the kids not to go near them. It's something you have to be very aware of.
The mozzies here will be out in full very soon and they often carry West Nile disease which can be fatal. Who would have though living in a city could be so full of jungle fever?

ADDY said...

It was the same when we lived in Germany. It never occured to me until we acquired a dog for a short while. Everywhere we went people tended to take wide berths around him and then we discovered everyone was terrified of rabies.It also got driven home further when we were holidaying in Croatia and one of the hotel staff we befriended was savaged by her cat, after which the cat ran off never to be seen again. She said she was afraid the cat had contacted rabies and had run off to die. We are not used to this at all in the UK

nappy valley girl said...

I am dreading the return of the mosquitoes this year. They were awful last year, and everyone says this year will be worse. As for rabies, well we do get the odd raccoon but it hadn't crossed my mind that they might attack anyone!

Iota said...

We seem to have quite a few stray dogs round here, and I can't believe that people get soppy about them and take them in. I definitely wouldn't approach one.

Mosquitoes... there's something to look forward to as summer begins.

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