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more on rabies?

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by KaiYoDei, May 31, 2011.

  1. KaiYoDei

    KaiYoDei New Member

    I looked at some of the things from the serch for rabies and did not find much of what I liked.

    so me and my mom were watching 1000 ways to die and they had the "hillbilly taxidermist" who allegeldy shot the squirrel and ate it raw and he got rabies.
    concerned for my health she dosen't want me skinning road kill anymore.
    even if I had a freezer to kill the virus. I guess the cost of a mountable live size anything is small beans to dying. I guess if i don't toy with my life and just give it up, and not try(even with shoving it in a freezer or leaving it overnight outside) and just buy them. maybe she could help if I want to and being protective mother and saying I should not. I am horrible at fleshing, and worry it will be difficult to skin when it has been dead, unfrozen for 24+ hours.
    if you cut your self and bleed when skinning something "questionably" dead you can get sick? if the animal has been dead for 3 hours? or if you saw a woodchuck get killed by a car, or see a fox die at 4 am.
    foxes get hit at dark time even when well right?
    and opossums should not be messed with unless you kill it yourself.

    live ones you get from saliva and puncture wound
    or membrane to membrane. or eat them raw, lick their eyes or something stupid.
    or get snot in a cut/wound.

    so just really skin it and cut away fleshy parts after, and not (de-mask?) the face as close as you can so a tooth dosen't kill your glove and you accidentally cut yourself.
    it dies when the body temperature drops after death to a point, but it can hibernate for months if in the winter?

    so then freezing a carcass is not going to do anything?

    the rabies risk is greater than the legal risk of taking the road kill. Unless it is a snake.
    baby ground hogs can still be carriers/get it I am told. even wee little infant raccoons could be rabid.

    I could be careful to an extent but I don't know then if it is worth it, or how to explain safety precautions. because of this "I don't want you doing it anymore/I don't think you should do this" I guess a freezer now is out of the question. because if I got something road killed in the summer(that is diurnal) I can't leave it outside in the summer heat. it will rot and get slimy.

    so there is no way to confirm these things? or hope I make a taxidermy buddy to live with and help me, or just buy a $$$ rodent or any other mammal and take it home.
    even if I froze a raccoon or fox for 2 days.
  2. James Parrish

    James Parrish Tundra Swan...Its What's For Dinner!

    I consider myself somewhat of a "rabies expert" as I worked in a lab testing dead animals for rabies for 1.5 yr.

    Fact: Rabies is deadly, but you can get prophylaxis (vaccine) if you work with animals a lot (veterinarians, animal control, etc) or prevention if you come into contact with a rabid animal

    Fact: Rabies does not travel in the blood stream. It travels through nervous tissue (nerves) and is spread via the salivary glands and brain matter. So if you get blood from a rabid animal in a cut, you will not get rabies (bacterial infections would be very likely)

    Fact: If you skin a rabid animal, the virus will not become airborne.

    Fact: Freezing does not kill the rabies virus. We used to grow rabies virus from tissues that had been frozen for months.

    Fact: Time does not necessarily kill the rabies virus. We routinely tested animals that had been dead for a week or longer and detected live rabies virus.

    Opinion: Taxidermists that handle a lot of mammals (fox, raccoon, bobcat, coyote, skunk, bats) should consider getting vaccinated. These were the worst offenders when I was doing the testing. Oppossums, squirrels, deer, chipmunks, groundhogs, rats, etc rarely have rabies.

    Safety Precautions: I recommend taxidermists wear high quality latex or nitrile gloves when skinning these animals. Double gloving is not a bad idea. Use reasonable caution when working around the head. Should you cut yourself or puncture your gloves and come into contact with saliva or brain material, contact your local health department. Again, consider getting a series of vaccinations (it was 3 when I got them in 2001) if you are really worried. Roadkill animals would not be of concern to me. However, when you take in one of the high risk animals (fox, coon, bobcat, coyote, skunk) ask about when the animal was killed. If you hear something that throws up a red flag (foaming at mouth, problems walking, no fear of humans, nocturnal animals out in daytime, etc) recommend the client get the animal tested for rabies since their chance of exposure is great.

  3. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Great post, James. Thank you. I read that about the yahoo getting rabies from a squirrel and almost sprayed Pepsi on my keyboard. Rodents seldom contract rabies.

    The best advice, unless you're wealthy enough to afford the rabies vaccination and the yearly titer checks required, is to know what the animal was doing right before it died. A fox chasing a rabbit across the road at midnight doesn't ring any bells like one hit at noon standing alongside the road. (I double glove for all those high vector species, regardless.)
  4. KaiYoDei

    KaiYoDei New Member

    ah ok. I don't have knives good enough for something big like a coyote. I've been told elsewere the virus might be dead if it's host has been dead for time. a freezer would keep it from rotting in heat.

    some of the roadkill I find had smooshed heads, dealing with a crushed brain when you don't know it is crushed is to much trouble than it is worth

    maybe there can be a posted sticky for a catch all rabies topic, with a big FAQ inspired by all the other ones.

    so having a hangnail and touching brains can have a rabies risk.
  5. James Parrish

    James Parrish Tundra Swan...Its What's For Dinner!

    I'm not sure what the cost of the vaccination or titer checks are as mine were paid for by the state. I do know that there are 2 other guys that still work in that lab that were vaccinated right around the same time I was (2001). One of them has had to get a booster because his titer dropped off and the other still has a very strong titer. So, IMO, it is a good investment if you deal with a lot of high risk species on a regular basis.

    Just because the animal has been dead for a while means nothing. The virus could still be alive. Like I said, we got positive test results all the time on animals that had been dead for over a week and not frozen. We also routinely grew the virus (for producing positive control slides and sub-typing) from brain material that had been frozen for months. So, the virus does not die when the host dies. As far as the hang nail, that is a little far fetched. In order to get infected with the rabies virus, you would have to get a puncture wound and brain matter or saliva would have to enter that wound. Double gloving is a reasonable precaution and you will know if something punctures both gloves and your skin. I did not mention this in my last post, but if you are sawing antler plates on a high risk animal (the animal was presenting symptoms of rabies when it died), I would wear a surgical mask and face shield. The virus is not aerosolized, but tiny bits of brain matter will be going everywhere, especially if you're using a recip saw like I use. There are quite a few nerve endings in the sinus cavities and in the eyes. One of the small pieces could infect you through that pathway. Not likely, but wearing a shield and mask is cheap prevention.
  6. I remember reading in an issue of Scientific American back in 1980 that a bat study in Texas resulted in the rabies death of one of the F&G biologists involved. Three test animals in contact proof cages were placed in a cave where the studies were being conducted. All three contracted rabies. None of them, incliuding the biologist, were bitten. There is other examples of airborne cases of rabies infecting lab workers. Sunlight and dehydration of the infected tissue will supposedly kill the virus. There was an instance of horses dying from rabies. No indications of being bitten or other physical contact was detected in necropsy. A den of hibernating skunks was discovered in the pasture where the horses were kept. Supposedly the frost at the entrance of the den, from the skunk's breath, contained both live and dead rabies virus. GOOGLE: 'airborne rabies transmission' or 'breathing airborne rabies'.
  7. Becky P

    Becky P One must believe the glass is half full.

    Now that's kinda scary!
  8. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Glenn, that's a bit far fetched. Bats in a cave huddling en mass to ward off cold certainly could contract airborne rabies from sneezing and coughing infected saliva on another animal. Any fool who'd go into a bat cave without respiratory protection or protective equipment is questionable to begin with. Why wouldn't a "high risk" individual be innoculated to begin with.

    The skunk is also far fetched. A infected mother skunk is almost a guarantee to vector the disease to her young either through direct contact of licking them or licking her teats to keep them clean as mammals do.

    According to the CDC, the cost of the initial 5 shot, 4 week regimen is in excess of $1000. Yearly titer checks are in excess of $100. And remember, if you ARE exposed to rabies, you'll still require a "booster" which is also in excess of $100. (Somehow that doesn't make sense. If I KNOW I'm exposed then what good is the innoculation if I have to have a booster. And if I DON'T, what are the consequences.) Most private insurances won't cover preventive costs but will cover post-exposure shots. So if you KNOW you've been exposed or you question if you have been, have the animal tested by your state health department and then get the injections if the tests come back positive.
  9. James Parrish

    James Parrish Tundra Swan...Its What's For Dinner!

    The post-exposure shots are the same as the vaccination. The only difference is that if you are unvaccinated and you are exposed through a puncture wound, for instance, then you will also have to have immunoglobulin shots directly into the puncture wound which will likely be sore as the devil from bacterial infections. If you have been vaccinated, then all you have to get is the booster. If you have been exposed, your titer was still good, and you didn't get a booster, you would still be immune from the virus. The booster for vaccinated folks that have definitely been exposed is just a preventative measure. The shots are relatively harmless (except for a sore shoulder and maybe slight fever) so why not give them an extra one for good measure. After all, if you contract rabies, you will die. The good news about the post-exposure is that once you have had it, you are vaccinated against the virus in the future. Again, yearly titer checks are required to verify immunity, but if you are exposed again, you simply get a booster.
  10. KaiYoDei

    KaiYoDei New Member

    so i guess I should just buy dead animals and not make use of lucky road kills, or just take the tail of a canine, and not the other. this is not my work job.

    or just leave felines, canines, and raccoons where they are and ask zoos if theirs die if I could have them.
  11. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Or stop being paranoid. Rabies outbreaks are pretty well documented. Just protect yourself as you should with ANY animal.
  12. KaiYoDei

    KaiYoDei New Member

    ok. I consider the roadkill "free fur"
  13. Lone Wolf AK

    Lone Wolf AK Lone Wolf Taxidermy and Wildlife Artistry

    Here's some old info I posted a while back that is related to the topic. Maybe it will help....


    As other folks have pointed out, some species have a high incidence of rabies infection, while others are rarely infected.

    Here are some other informational links:


  14. KaiYoDei

    KaiYoDei New Member

    who do i bring it up with? in the nervousness of explanations of the situation and calling.
    "hey i find vehilcular casualites to take the fur"

    do they make small kevlar gloves?
  15. Becky P

    Becky P One must believe the glass is half full.

    I bought small ones from Waterdude Rick on here. Kevlar won't stop always stop a puncture but it will stop a cut/slice.
  16. If anyone gets rabies, call me!! I have a list of people I want you to bite!!!
  17. Becky P

    Becky P One must believe the glass is half full.

  18. JessiJD

    JessiJD New Member

    While all the advice given here is very good, I would also like to remind you that "1000 Ways to Die" is referred to as docufiction. While some of the stories are based in truth, many are embellished to where they become borderline fiction. So take the story about the squirrel with a grain of salt.
  19. trappersteph

    trappersteph now you can have it...

    I've skinned and worked with so many furbearers that I lost count. Roadkills, foxes shot in daylight wandering past a deer stand ( red foxes do this around here, and is not an indication in itself of rabies), early morning raccoon shot by a deer hunter, trapped by someone else, and trapped by myself ( hundreds). Red fox, grey fox, coyote, raccoon, skunk- all big rabies vectors here. I'm still here and have never even gotten sick working with all these dead animals be they deer, bears, foxes, ducks, or mice. My live chickens have also never made me sick. I've also skinned a few suspect animals, besides roadkills ( roadkills are always suspect for rabies unless the person actually saw it get hit and it was at night). There was the sick skunk with a beautiful pelt ( double gloves and lots of 3% h peroxide and alcohol on hand), and then there was the weird daytime raccoon I had to shoot that Bob Wendt told me to let lay in the 40 degree temps for 2 days then carefully skin it. It had a nice pelt.

    The key is WEAR NITRILE or similar GLOVES! Keep hand sanitizer dispensers around! They have alcohol in the liquid that kills just about everything ( "99% of germs"). Do not come into contact with brain and spinal matter or the animal's saliva. Ok I know brain matter may be hard to avoid with some roadkills LOL, but wear the gloves and don't get stupid. Wear gloves when picking them up too. You should wear gloves with all dead animals you handle. When I remove the gloves when finished my work, I slather the hand sanitizer on my hands and any exposed arm, even my face some if I thought I felt blood or something spatter. Then I wash up with soap and water, change clothes if needed, and so on.