Today, is World Rabies Day, a day in which we are reminded how to keep our pets safe from this completely treatable disease. World Rabies Day began in 2007 as a way to raise awareness about the disease and enhance prevention worldwide. You may be asking why this is necessary since it’s so rare to hear of any cases in the United States. In fact, in the past decade, there has only been 25 reported human cases in the U.S. and dogs represent only 1% of rabid animals reported. No doubt, this is great news! Thanks to animal control and vaccination programs, rabies cases and fatalities in both humans and pets have declined substantially. However, the effort to control rabies is ongoing. Here are a few reasons why it’s import to get a rabies vaccination for your pet.
What is rabies?
According to the CDC, rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease. The virus is spread through the saliva of a rabid animal, usually through a bite or scratch. The virus will then attack the brain and nervous system of infected mammals. This can lead to difficulty swallowing (increased saliva), lack of coordination, mood or behavior changes, lethargy, fever, and vomiting. Sometimes symptoms can take 3-12 weeks to begin showing. Once a pet shows any symptoms though, there’s no treatment or cure.
Can my pet get rabies?
Yes! Even your indoor cat could be exposed to rabies. A common source of the virus is wild animals – like bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes. In the United States, bats are the most common wild, rabid animal and they can easily enter your home and bite or scratch your pet! Furthermore, cats are actually infected at much higher rates than dogs. This is likely because cats are less likely to receive the vaccine.
How do I prevent rabies?
- Keep your pets safe from wildlife or unvaccinated animals.
- Don’t attract stray or wild animals in your yard – Keep food sources inside.
- Ensure that all your (mammal) pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.
- If your pet is bitten/scratched, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Rabies is a very scary disease, but it is also 100% preventable! This year, to honor World Rabies Day, make sure your pet has an up-to-date rabies vaccine.