by Linda, Everett Public Library staff
You almost certainly can’t get rabies from a squirrel?
Squirrels can get rabies but there has never been a documented case of squirrel to human transmission.
I found this information on page 130 in the book Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide. I also never realized that prairie dogs are squirrels or that there are so many varieties of squirrels. You can see many of the varieties pictured in this book, or take a look at Squirrels of the West by Tamara Hartson. For younger kids, Squirrels: Welcome to the World of Animals by Diane Swanson will give them an inside the nest view of the daily lives of these cute little critters!
Rodents such as squirrels, rats, mice and prairie dogs have a genetic abnormality that generally keeps them from getting rabies. In addition, squirrels usually aren’t around the other types of animals that carry rabies so their risk of exposure is very low.
As scientists learn more and more about genetics and disease, they are understanding more about the role certain specific genes play in our health and familial hereditary. There are now many diseases that they can detect in your DNA. Genes &DNA by Richard Walker is a children’s book that is very well written and explains the basics of DNA, RNA, the double helix, and genes. It also gives examples that easily explain twins, disease, cloning and more.
It seems odd to think of a disease as deadly as rabies as being fascinating, but Rabid by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy (which gives the history of rabies and the attempts by different societies to treat and prevent this catastrophic illness through the ages) was very enlightening. The factual accounts make it that much more interesting.
There are several famous fictional stories of rabies as well. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neile Hurston and Old Yeller by Fred Gipson will touch your heartstrings, while Cujo by Stephen King is suspenseful and will keep you on the edge of your seat!
Fortunately rabies is very preventable now because of the vaccines that our pets can be given, and the advanced treatments that someone can be given if suspected of being infected. Vaccine: the Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver by Arthur Allen is informative; it talks about the creation and uses of different vaccines throughout history, while telling us about the controversies and politics of immunizations at the same time .