9/11/12 Ask-A-Vet: Rabies Prevention
TV 20 STUDIO - Dr. Tecla Myrick was here Tuesday to talk about Rabies precautions to take for you and your pets.
Rabies is a deadly virus carried most commonly by wildlife but any mammal is susceptible (most commonly raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes). It is a zoonotic disease (transmitted between people and animals through bites/saliva). People, ferrets, horses and cows can contract it as well. It is much less common in small mammals such as rats, squirrels, mice and possums.
55,000 people die each year worldwide from Rabies (1-3 people in the US). In other countries, infected dogs are usually the cause and in the US it is usually bats or raccoons. Rabies in people is much less common in the US because of the excellent Vaccination programs. . It is very common in Africa and Asia.
Why is it important to have your pets vaccinated? Because once the disease is contracted (symptoms start showing), there is no cure. It causes immense suffering before death.
The symptoms stem from encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). In animals, the signs are wild life acting tame or walking around people when they usually don't, acting aggressive or tame, drooling, disorientation and vocalizing!
Tingling around the bite wound in people is the first sign. Then as the disease progresses, the infected individuals become anxious, aggressive, restless, have muscle spasms, seizures and death.
How is it prevented? Thankfully, vaccinations of dogs and cats (and people) are 100% effective and have caused the disease to be rare in dogs and cats and people in the USA.
Take home message: Get all your pets vaccinated at your local Veterinarian or Animal Services. Stay away from wildlife that is acting tame or strange. Seek immediate care by a doctor if you're bitten by any animal. If you go over seas, consult with your physician to see if you should get a rabies vaccination.
For more information:
Call Alachua County Animal Services at 352-264-6870
or go to http://www.cdc.gov/