Commonly Infected Wildlife

Any mammal can be infected with rabies, but bats (less than 1 percent are infected) and skunks (a variable percent are infected) are the most significant rabies-vector species in Missouri.

Is This Animal Infected?

Infected animals may be found dead, weak, stumbling, convulsing, or showing unusual behavior, such as aggression or disorientation.

Behavioral changes are not always obvious.

Can I Get It?

Yes, primarily from contact with saliva of infected animals, as in a bite wound.

How bad can it get?

Rabies is fatal once symptoms appear. Seek medical evaluation immediately following an animal bite or contact with an animal suspected of having rabies.

Symptoms in humans

  • Rabies can be prevented if treatment is given before symptoms appear.
    Symptoms typically appear about a month after exposure, but can occur earlier or much later (months to years).
  • Symptoms often start with flu-like conditions, followed by pain, tingling, or itching near the exposure site. Symptoms typically progress to anxiety, mental confusion, hallucinations, paralysis, and death.

Protect Myself and Others

  • Do not approach or handle any animal that shows unusual behavior.
  • If bitten, scratched, or exposed to saliva from a wild animal:
    Clean and flush the wound with soap and warm water for 10–15 minutes, and Seek immediate medical attention.
Big brown bat on tree
Noppadol Paothong

Safe for Pets?

No. Rabies vaccination is highly recommended by veterinarians and is required by law in many areas. Talk to your veterinarian about vaccinations for your pets and livestock.

What Causes It?

Rabies is a viral disease of mammals. Rabies testing requires brain tissue, so avoid head shots if killing suspect animals.