Community Animal Clinic has been serving the pet health care needs of the Wytheville community for over twenty years. We hope the following pages will be both informative and enjoyable. Pet health care questions should continue to be addressed via phone call to our office at 276-223-1234.
–Community Animal Clinic Staff
What is Rabies?
What Animals Can Get Rabies?
Only mammals can get rabies; birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians do not. In the United States, most cases of rabies occur in wild animals—mainly skunks, raccoons, bats, coyotes, and foxes. In recent years, cats have become the most common domestic animal infected with rabies. This is because many cat owners do not vaccinate their cats and cats can be exposed to rabid wildlife, either outdoors or when bats get into the house. Rabies also occurs in dogs and cattle in significant numbers and, while not as common, has been diagnosed in horses, goats, sheep, swine and ferrets.
Vaccination programs and control of stray animals have been effective in preventing rabies in most pets. Approved rabies vaccines are available for cats, dogs, ferrets, horses, cattle and sheep. Licensed oral vaccines are also being used for mass immunization of wildlife, particularly raccoons.
How Great is the Risk of Rabies to Humans?
Rabies remains a major concern worldwide, killing around 59,000 people every year. Almost all of these deaths are due to rabies transmitted by dogs in countries where dog vaccination programs are not sufficiently developed to stop the spread of the virus.
Rabies vaccination and animal control programs, along with better treatment for people who have been bitten, have dramatically reduced the number of human cases of rabies in the United States. Most of the relatively few human cases in this country have resulted from exposures to bats; any contact with bats, even if a bite was not noticed, should be reported to your physician. Extremely rare cases have resulted from corneal or organ/tissue transplants from an infected donor. Dogs are still a significant source of rabies in other countries, particularly in Asia and Africa, so travelers should be aware of this risk and seek medical advice about vaccination prior to traveling outside of the United States.
What Can I Do to Help Control Rabies?
Remember that rabies is entirely preventable through vaccination.
- Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and select horses and livestock. Your veterinarian will advise you on the recommended or required frequency of vaccination in your area.
- Reduce the possibility of exposure to rabies by not letting your pets roam free. Keep cats and ferrets indoors, and supervise dogs when they are outside. Spaying or neutering your pet may decrease roaming tendencies and will prevent them from contributing to the birth of unwanted animals.
- Don’t leave exposed garbage or pet food outside, as it may attract wild or stray animals.
- Wild animals should never be kept as pets. Not only may this be illegal, but wild animals pose a potential rabies threat to caretakers and to others.
More information can be found in the AVMA Rabies Pamphlet.
Pet Article of the Month
2016 marks the 10th World Rabies Day, a milestone in rabies prevention.
Since it began in 2007, the rabies community have aligned to make World Rabies Day a global phenomenon. In that time, its life-saving rabies prevention messages have reached millions of people in over 100 different countries.
This year’s theme is Rabies: Educate. Vaccinate. Eliminate.