View Full Version : Squirrels Do Not Carry Rabies!
03-19-2002, 12:39 PM
We love you but you really screwed the pooch this time. In this (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_014.html) classic column, you tried to scare me from providing for my family by claiming that squirrels commonly carry rabies. That is simply not true. Nobody really knows why but squirrels and other small rodents including rats almost never carry rabies in the wild. In fact, there has never been a proven case of a squirrel transmitting rabies in the United States.
03-19-2002, 05:56 PM
They do carry the bubonic plague, however. There was a local guy not long ago who contracted it from eating a poorly-cooked squirrel.
Wait - was it the plague? Yeah, I think so. Pretty sure.
03-19-2002, 09:43 PM
The column in question: How do you clean and cook a squirrel? (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_014.html)
Duck Duck Goose
03-19-2002, 10:21 PM
Well, er, the CDC doesn't exactly say "you cannot ever get rabies from a squirrel". They're saying you usually won't get rabies from a squirrel bite.
The original source quoted in the Times article. Qualifying words bolded and underlined by me.
What is the risk of rabies from squirrels, mice, rats, and other rodents?
Small rodents (such as squirrels, rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and chipmunks, ) and lagomorphs (such as rabbits and hares) are almost never found to be infected with rabies and have not been known to cause rabies among humans in the United States. Bites by these animals are usually not considered a risk of rabies unless the animal was sick or behaving in any unusual manner and rabies is widespread in your area...In all cases involving rodents, the state or local health department should be consulted before a decision is made to initiate postexposure prophylaxis (PEP).
So, Cecil wasn't exactly wrong. What he said was:
City squirrels are inordinately fond of rabies and other diseases, some of which can be transmitted through mere skin contact.
Squirrels, like any mammal, can certainly carry rabies. Wanna quibble about Unc's breezy use of the phrase "inordinately fond"?
Or is life perhaps too short? :D
03-19-2002, 10:44 PM
A number of people HAVE acquired rabies from woodchucks, though. Just sayin'.
03-21-2002, 03:10 AM
The column can also be found on pages 14-15 of Cecil Adams' book «The Straight Dope (1984; reissued 1986, 1998) (https://securesite.chireader.com/cgi-bin/dopestore/buystuff.bat#tsd)».
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