Rabies is prevented, by vaccinating animals that come in contact with humans. If it's been a while since your pet was vaccinated make an appointment with your veterinarian this week.
World Rabies Day is September 28th, a date chosen in honor of Louis Pasteur who developed the first rabies vaccine.
Around the world the disease kills nearly sixty thousand people every year. Although human rabies is rare in the United States, with only one confirmed case last year, that doesn’t mean that rabies is not a threat in this country. Most states require that pet animals be immunized yearly but in Alabama almost half of the dogs and about three-fourths of the cat population go unvaccinated for this deadly disease.
Last year in our state, there were 51 confirmed cases of rabies in raccoons, bats, foxes and two cats. The danger in not having your pet vaccinated is that rabies is zoonotic – it can spread from animals to people. If caught early, rabies is treatable with a series of four injections over a fourteen-day period. Untreated, the virus is one hundred percent fatal in humans.
When your pet goes outside, even in your fenced yard, it is very possible to have an encounter with a rabies-carrying animal. In our neighborhood we have seen quite a few raccoons. They are so cute and seem to be friendly, but they can pose a serious danger to your dog or cat. This past summer, a rabid fox attacked a dog in Baldwin County. Fortunately the animal was current on its vaccinations.
So what can you do to protect your pet, yourself and your family from rabies? Start by having your dog, cat or ferret vaccinated. Vaccinations are also available for horses and livestock. Don’t leave open garbage cans outside that might attract wild or stray animals to come into your yard or near your home. And if you or a family member or a pet is bitten, report it to your county health department right away.
As World Rabies Day approaches, remember that rabies is 100% preventable, but it’s up to you to protect your whole family from this deadly virus, including the furry four-footed ones, when we’re speaking of pets.