World Rabies Day will be held on September 28, 2017. During that week (September 25-October 1, 2017) the Virginia Department of Health will partner with the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association to sponsor our statewide Rabies Awareness Week campaign.
Did you know that every year, more than 55,000 people in the world die from rabies? That’s 1 person every 10 minutes! Learn more about this serious disease, including who is affected by rabies; how rabies is spread; how to recognize a rabid animal; and how to protect yourself and your pets from rabies from this video published by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Dog Bite Facts:
- Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
- Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
- Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
- Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
- Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
- Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.
There are many things you can do to avoid dog bites, ranging from properly training and socializing your pet to educating your children and yourself about how – or whether – to approach a dog. Information and education are the best solutions for this public health crisis.
Being president of the American Veterinary Medical Association carries many responsibilities… including serving as official veterinarian of the North Pole and head of the Emergency Landing and Veterinary Expert System (ELVES) team. AVMA President Dr. Tom Meyer examined Santa’s reindeer to make sure all were healthy and ready for their annual Christmas Eve flight around the world.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provides top tips that will leave pet owners thankful they don’t have to make a trip to the animal “ER” this holiday season.
“This is the time of year that many veterinary hospitals report a significant increase in emergency calls particularly those relating to digestive tract disturbances resulting from exposure to foods pets simply should not have received.” says Dr. Clark K. Fobian, president of the AVMA. “Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings together family and friends, but it is also one that can carry some hazards for our pets. Overindulging in the family feast can be unhealthy for humans, but fatty and bony table scraps, like the turkey neck or skin or other dietary indiscretions can lead to severe and sometimes even deadly digestive track conditions.”
The AVMA’s top tips for keeping pets healthy on Thanksgiving are:
Keep the Thanksgiving feast on the table—not under it. Table scraps may seem like a fun way to include your pet in the holiday, but there are a number of hazards to feeding your pets from your plate. Many foods healthy for you are poisonous to pets, including onions, garlic, raisins and grapes. There are many healthy treats available for dogs and cats, so don’t feed them table scraps. Instead, make or buy a treat that is made just for them. Make sure the pet treat is not a part of any ongoing recall.
Put the trash away where your pets can’t find it. A turkey carcass sitting out on the carving table or left in an open trash container or one that’s easily opened could prove deadly if the family pet eats it. What your pet thinks is a tasty treat can cause a condition called pancreatitis, which is extremely dangerous and can cause death fairly quickly. Dispose of turkey carcasses in a covered, tightly secured container (or a trash can behind a closed, locked door) along with anything used to wrap or tie the meat and any bones left on plates.
No pie or other desserts for your pooch. It can’t be said often enough, chocolate is poisonous to pets, and the darker it is the more deadly it is. It’s an important reminder, because many dogs find it tempting, and will sniff it out and eat it if they find it, including extremely dangerous baker’s chocolate. Also, an artificial sweetener called Xylitol has also been shown to be deadly if consumed by dogs. Xylitol is a common sweetener used in baked goods and chewing gums.
Quick action can save lives. If you believe your pet has been poisoned or eaten something it shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately.
Visitors can upset your pets. Some pets are shy or excitable around new people, and Thanksgiving often means many new people will be visiting. If you know your dog or cat is overwhelmed when people visit your home, put them in another room or a crate with a favorite toy. If your pet is particularly upset by houseguests, talk to your veterinarian about possible solutions to this common problem.
Watch the exits. If your pets are comfortable around guests, make sure you watch them closely, especially when your guests are entering or leaving your home. While you’re welcoming hungry guests and collecting coats, a four-legged family member may make a break for it out the door and become lost. It’s also a good idea to make sure your pet has proper identification, particularly microchip identification with up-to-date, registered information, so that if they do sneak out, they’ll be returned to you.
Watch your pets around festive decorations. Special holiday displays or candles are attractive to pets as well as people. Never leave a pet alone in an area with a lit candle; it could result in a fire. Don’t forget that some flowers and festive plants can be hazardous if swallowed by your pet. Pine cones and needles can cause an intestinal blockage or even perforate the animal’s intestine.
Follow these seven tips from the AVMA to help make Halloween safer for your pets!
- Don’t feed your pets Halloween candy, especially if it contains chocolate or xylitol (a common sugar substitute found in sugar-free candies and gum);
- Make sure your pet is properly identified (microchip, collar and ID tag) in case s/he escapes through the open door while you’re distracted with trick-or-treaters;
- Keep lit candles and jack-o-lanterns out of reach of pets;
- If you plan to put a costume on your pet, make sure it fits properly and is comfortable, doesn’t have any pieces that can easily be chewed off, and doesn’t interfere with your pet’s sight, hearing, breathing, opening its mouth, or moving. Take time to get your pet accustomed to the costume before Halloween, and never leave your pet unsupervised while he/she is wearing a costume;
- Keep glow sticks and glow jewelry away from your pets. Although the liquid in these products isn’t likely toxic, it tastes really bad and makes pets salivate excessively and act strangely;
- If your pet is wary of strangers or has a tendency to bite, put him/her in another room during trick-or-treating hours or provide him/her with a safe hiding place;
- Keep your pet inside.
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. The virus is secreted in saliva and is usually transmitted to people and animals by a bite from an infected animal. Less commonly, rabies can be transmitted when saliva from a rabid animal comes in contact with an open cut on the skin or through the eyes, nose, or mouth of a person or animal. Once the outward signs of the disease appear, rabies is nearly always fatal.
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.