Rabid response: One bite, five shots

Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck had some great adventures.

"It's Duck season!" "It's Wabbit season!" "It's Wabbit season!" "It's Duck season, Fire!!" Boom!

Remember when they entered Aladdin's cave and found enough jewelry to make Joan Rivers have a seizure?

Daffy said, "It's all mine, mine, mine! I'm rich and happy!" But could you imagine if Bugs Bunny had rabies? He would have bitten off his nemesis's head and made Daffy paté.

Just so you know, bunny rabbits tend not to get rabies. Sylvester the cat, Goofy the dog, and that more obscure character, Fuzzy the ferret, are more likely to be afflicted.

Because rabies vaccination laws are pretty strict for dogs, few of them have rabies today. Cats are less likely to get vaccinated, and therefore more cats than dogs tend to have rabies. As for ferrets– who has a ferret? I know Ben Stiller made a joke about a ferret, and oooooh! did he tick off a lot of ferret owners. But I don't know anyone around here with one.

Rabies is a virus that attacks the central nervous system, like the brain. Because it's fatal, post-exposure prophylaxis is vital. It's transmitted to humans via saliva, and about 40,000 Americans every year get rabies prophylaxis shots after being bitten. So if Mike Tyson had had rabies when he bit off Evander Holyfield's ear, Evander could have caught rabies and never lived to reach ABC television's new hit Dancing with the Stars.

Only mammals carry rabies, so if you're bitten by Daffy Duck, you're safe. (If you're bitten by Goofy, then there's something really wrong with you anyway.) Though Batman Begins has been going gang-busters at the box office, bats are one of the biggest rabies carriers. So I'm sure Batman has a rabies vaccine in his utility belt.

Carnivorous wild animals– in particular skunks, coyotes, Ann Coulter, bobcats, and foxes– are other mammals that frequently have rabies. So if you're at a bar and want to pick up a fox, be careful. Hardy har har!

Woodchucks are also commonly infected by rabies! How much wood can a woodchuck chuck before he croaks from rabies? Bites from these animals almost always warrant rabies shots: immunoglobulin shots once, and rabies vaccine shots five times over a 28-day period.

Small rodents like squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks (like Chip & Dale, who are so polite they make Queen Elizabeth look like Tonya Harding), rats, and mice have not been known to transmit rabies to humans. So rabies prophylaxis for bites from these small critters is usually not necessary.

Elsie the cow and other domestic livestock can be exposed to rabies, but it's pretty darn rare. Public health officials usually make recommendations about livestock bites on a case-by-case basis.

Whether to get rabies shots for cats, dogs, and ferrets depends on the situation. Contagious animals usually die or show neurological evidence of rabies within 10 days. So if you can observe the animal for 10 days and see no evidence of rabies, you don't need to be treated. But if Goofy starts acting like Cujo, then it's time to get the shots.

"Shot through the heart, And you're to blame. You give love a bad name." Egad! I'm quoting Bon Jovi.

If the animal is a stray, you might not be able to catch it for observation. In that case, you probably should get the shots.

Pet owners! Please vaccinate your pets against rabies. Not only can it save your pets' lives, but you can potentially spare a person the agony of worrying about having rabies if Fido breaks bad and breaks someone's skin.

Also spay and neuter your pets. Bob Barker couldn't say it any better.