Officials in Arizona have confirmed cases of rabies near the Superstition Mountains – a rare occurrence since rabies has dramatically changed in the United States.
There have been two cases of rabid animals in the area around the Superstition Mountains, which includes popular hiking and camping grounds like the Lost Dutchman State Park, Tonto National Forest, and First Water Trail, Tech Times reports.
According to authorities, hikers have reported a rise in the number of rabid wild animals in the area recently. Park officials have also seen dead animals and aggressive wildlife along the trails.
In the state of Arizona, the most common carriers of rabies are bats, along with skunks, foxes and bobcats in fewer numbers. This year, the state has confirmed 134 rabies cases, including 18 skunks and 61 bats. An estimated 30 people are exposed to rabies from rabid animals annually in Arizona, which frequently occurs when a person touches or handles sick or dead bats.
Before 1960, most of the rabies cases were domestic animal cases, but now, over 90% are from wild animals. The number of human deaths caused by rabies has dropped dramatically since the 1990s from over a hundred to just one or two per year. This decrease is mostly due to the successful use of modern-day prophylaxis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the only well-documented case of human-to-human rabies transmission is that of eight cornea transplants and three organ transplants wherein the recipients contracted rabies. Theoretically, bite and non-bite human-to-human rabies transmissions are possible, but so far, there have been no documented cases.
Rabies is a viral disease that is transferred through the bite of an infected animal. The virus quickly spreads throughout the central nervous system, leading to death, if left untreated. Early symptoms are common, such as fever, headaches and discomfort, but as the disease advances, more severe symptoms begin to show. These include anxiety, partial paralysis, excitation, hallucination, insomnia, hypersalivation, and hydrophobia. Death can happen in as quickly as a few days after contact with a rabid animal.