Rabies- Not a Disease of the Past
Did you ever think that your pet’s rabies vaccination wasn’t all that important? Did you know that if your cat or dog is not current on its rabies vaccination, and a stray or wild animal bites your pet, the County Health Department can, and will, demand that the pet be euthanized or strictly quarantined for six months, and they will not allow them to be quarantined at home? Did you know that if your cat or dog bites someone and it is not current on its rabies vaccination that the County Health Department can demand that the pet be euthanized and tested for rabies? Do you think an indoor only cat has no possible exposure to rabies?
Rabies is a deadly form of viral encephalitis that affects the brain and nerves of mammals. It is most often spread through saliva but it can also be in aerosol droplets that can be inhaled. Rabies is transmitted primarily through bite wounds. Skunks, bats, raccoons, and foxes are the primary carriers. Cats, dogs and cattle account for most of the rabies cases in domestic animals. Rabies is also fatal to humans, as there has been only one case of a person surviving rabies when treatment was started after clinical signs were present. Puppies are vaccinated when three to four months of age and then one year later.
Each state varies in its rabies law, but most states require rabies vaccine every three years for adult pets, and some states still require them annually. We recommend rabies vaccinations even for those cats that live only indoors. It prevents legal and bureaucratic issues in case your cat bites or scratches any visitor. Also, there have been cases where people have found bats inside their house that tested positive for rabies.
1) 55,000 people worldwide die from rabies each year. Most are in Asia and Africa.
2) One person dies from rabies every 10 minutes
3) In the US in 2007, 7000 animal cases of rabies were reported.
4) One to three cases of rabies in people are reported each year in the US.
5) Five years of a canine vaccination program in Mexico reduced human rabies cases in Mexico from 60 per year to less than 20.
6) World Rabies Day is Sept 28. An alliance of US veterinary pharmaceutical companies, the Center for Disease Control, and British organizations are trying to raise awareness of the severity of the rabies problem.
If a person or a pet is bitten by an unknown or unvaccinated animal (dog, cat, or wild animal), the local health department or your veterinarian should be consulted. The animal that bit should be apprehended, if possible, and your veterinarian or local health official should be contacted immediately.