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Alaska Department of Fish and Game


Parasites and Diseases
Rabies

A Field Guide
TO COMMON WILDLIFE DISEASES
AND PARASITES IN ALASKA

RABIES

caption follows
Rabid foxes often lose natural fear of humans. Avoid contact.

What causes rabies?
  • Rabies is caused by a virus spread in the saliva of infected animals.

Where does rabies occur?
  • All warm-blooded mammals can be infected.
  • In Alaska, rabies occurs most often in arctic fox and red fox from the North coast, West coast and Alaska Peninsula.
  • Rabies has also been found in dogs, red foxes, wolves, caribou, and polar bears.
  • Humans can also get rabies.

What are the signs of rabies?
  • Rabid animals often lose their fear of humans and may become vicious and attack for no reason.
  • They may have a dropped jaw and appear to be “foaming at the mouth.”
  • Rabid animals may appear weak or paralyzed.
  • They also sometimes chew rocks, dog chains, and other non-food items.

How can I protect myself? [can infect people] 
  • You can get rabies if you are bitten or licked by an infected animal or if saliva from an infected animal comes into contact with your skin, eyes, nose, lips, cuts or scratches.
  • Rabies can be fatal for humans and signs may be undetectable for weeks or months.
  • Do not go near an animal that you think has rabies.
  • Any person exposed to an animal that may have rabies should immediately contact the local nursing station or hospital.
  • Report any animals suspected of having rabies to the nearest ADF&G biologist or the Virology/Rabies Unit in Fairbanks (474-7017).
  • If you must kill an animal that you think has rabies, do not shoot it in the head.
  • Have your dog vaccinated against rabies.
  • There are also vaccines against rabies for humans. If you are in a high-risk area or profession (e.g., trapping), contact your health aide or hospital about getting a rabies vaccination.

Can I eat the meat? [can infect dogs]  [DO NOT EAT]
  • Do not eat meat from an animal that has rabies.
  • Do not feed the meat to dogs.

Samples to collect
  • Do not collect samples yourself.
  • For foxes, double-bag the entire animal in strong plastic garbage bags and put in a leak-proof container. Contact the nearest Fish and Game office or the Virology Unit in Fairbanks. Frozen specimens are okay. For larger animals, do not cut into carcasses suspected of being rabid.
  • To report an occurrence or to submit a sample for identification/analysis, contact the DWC Wildlife Disease Surveillance reporting hotline 907-328-8354, send an email to dfg.dwc.vet@alaska.gov or visit your local ADF&G office.

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