What is rabies?
Rabies is a lethal infectious disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system of mammals, including humans. Since birds, reptiles, and amphibians are not warm-blooded, they cannot contract rabies. The disease is a major concern in developing nations, where it causes more than 60,000 deaths annually.
Of the many diseases that can be transmitted to humans, rabies is one of the most severe, because it is fatal once symptoms appear.
Wild animals affected
The wild animals that most often transmit rabies in North America are bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Domestic animals (dogs, cats, livestock) that come into contact with infected wildlife can also contract rabies. They can also infect humans. However, most of the more recent cases of human rabies in the United States and Canada involved contact with bats.