World Rabies Day

posted: by: Dawn, RVT Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

September 28th is World Rabies Day, and Suburban Animal Clinic wants to remind you to be sure your pets are current on their rabies vaccines for their protection and yours.


Worldwide 55,000 people die each year from rabies.  In the United States, 1-2 people die annually.  In 2011, the United States reported more than 6000 cases of animal rabies.


Rabies is a virus in the saliva of infected animals that attacks the brain and nervous system.  Any warm-blooded mammal can become infected, people included.  The saliva from the rabid animal can enter the body in the form of a bite, or even an open cut or mucous membrane (nose, mouth, eyes).  Symptoms of rabies include behavioral changes (aggressive, attack unprovoked, or very quiet), circling, dragging a limb, or falling over.  Some rabid animals cannot swallow and therefore cannot eat or drink.  Wild animals may lose their fear of humans and approach people when they normally wouldn’t.


Skunks, raccoons, and bats are the most common vectors for the rabies virus.  Bat rabies is more common than you think.  It is not uncommon to get bats in your home through a window, door, screen, or space in the siding or vent of your home.  Bats are small and can often go unnoticed.  Cats especially like to play with anything that moves, so a flying bat to them looks like a giant toy.  That being said, even indoor only kitties need a rabies vaccine.


So how do you prevent rabies?  The number one way to prevent rabies in your pets is to vaccinate them!  The first vaccine is good for 1 year.  After that, depending on the laws in your area, the rabies vaccine will need boostered every 1-3 years.  Rabies vaccines are required by law in many areas, so be sure to check with your veterinarian or local health department as to the requirements in your area.


Avoid leaving animals outside unattended.  It takes only a moment for a rabid animal to enter your yard and bite your pet.  Do not approach any wild animal.  Also, do not leave food outside for pets or stray animals.  Food left outside attracts wild animals to your home.


If you suspect an animal of having rabies, contact your local health department immediately.  If your pet is bitten, contact your veterinarian for wound care and to update the rabies vaccine if needed.  People who suffer any animal bite should seek medical attention.  If the animal was wild or unvaccinated, let your medical professional know and contact your local health department.


More common is pet dogs and cats biting out of fear or pain.  If possible, verify the rabies vaccine status on these pets.  Legally medical professionals must report animal bites to the health department so that the animal can be quarantined for 10 days.  This quarantine period is to observe the animal for signs of rabies.  At the end of 10 days, a veterinarian must examine the animal, and vaccinate for rabies if needed.


Any animal can and will bite when fearful, startled, or in pain.  Children are bit more often than adults.  Keep your pets’ rabies vaccines up to date for their protection and that of any person who comes into contact with your pet (neighborhood children, strangers, veterinary professionals, etc).  Rabies is fatal, yet preventable!  For more information, visit and search RABIES.