Rabies is a very serious viral
infection of warm-blooded animals. It is caused by a virus in the Rhabdoviridae family.
The virus infects the central nervous system. Once symptoms develop, it is virtually
100% fatal in animals.
In North America, rabies happens
mainly in skunks, raccoons, foxes, and bats. In some parts, these wild animals infect
domestic cats, dogs, and livestock. In the U.S., cats are more likely than dogs to be
rabid. Generally, rabies is rare in small rodents, such as beavers, chipmunks,
squirrels, rats, mice, or hamsters. Rabies is also rare in rabbits. In the mid-Atlantic
states, where rabies is increasing in raccoons, woodchucks (groundhogs) can be