College presents a new world of opportunity, and a new world of risks. Communal living spaces, less-than-sanitary conditions, and irregular sleeping habits all can leave students vulnerable to disease.
This means prevention is key, says William Schaffner, MD, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. Schaffner, who is also chair of preventive medicine and an infectious diseases professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, spoke with WebMD about the most important vaccines...
is rare for people in the United States or Canada to get rabies. It is more common in
How do you get rabies?
People usually get rabies when a rabid animal bites them. People in the U.S. and Canada are most likely to get rabies
from bats.1 People in many other countries are most
likely to get rabies from dog bites.2, 3
raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes are the animals most likely to have rabies
in the U.S. and Canada. Small mammals such as mice and squirrels almost never have
Sometimes the rabies virus can spread to pets, such as
dogs, cats, and ferrets. But household pets rarely get rabies, because most of
them get rabies vaccines. Pets that stay indoors are very unlikely to get
It's possible to get rabies even when you don't see an
animal bite. For example, bat bites or scratches may be so small that you don't
notice them. If you or your children come in direct contact with a bat, or if
you find a bat in a closed room with a sleeping person, call your doctor right
People also can get rabies by handling animals with rabies or inhaling
the virus, but these cases are rare.
What are the symptoms?
Signs of rabies in animals
may include drooling, foaming at the mouth, or
paralysis. A pet with rabies also may behave
differently than usual, such as acting shy when the pet usually is friendly. A
wild animal with rabies may have no fear of humans.
If you think you've been exposed to the rabies virus, it's very important to get medical care before symptoms begin. If symptoms appear, it's too late for a cure, and the infection will probably lead to death. The time from exposure to the virus until symptoms appear
usually is 2 to 3 months. In rare cases, it may be shorter or much