Rabies infection is caused by the rabies virus. The virus is spread through the saliva of infected animals. Infected animals can spread the virus by biting another animal or a person. In rare cases, rabies can be spread when infected saliva gets into an open wound or the mucous membranes, such as the mouth or eyes. This could occur if an infected animal were to lick an open cut on your skin.

Animals that can transmit the rabies virus

Any mammal (an animal that suckles its young) can transmit the rabies virus. The animals most likely to transmit the rabies virus to people include:

Pets and farm animals

  • Cats
  • Cows
  • Dogs
  • Ferrets
  • Goats
  • Horses

Wild animals

  • Bats
  • Beavers
  • Coyotes
  • Foxes
  • Monkeys
  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
  • Woodchucks

In rare cases, the virus has been transmitted to tissue and organ transplant recipients from an infected organ.

Jan. 02, 2014

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