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Posted on 08-29-2017
Rabies - Not Just a Problem of the Past!
Mophie and Sprocket (the super adorable cats above and below) were found playing with a bat early one morning this week. Their owners did the best thing by calling us right away!
There are 2 ways to make this situation much easier:
1) Keep all pets up to date on their rabies vaccination.
2) Keep the wild animal (alive or deceased) for rabies testing.
Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system of warm blooded animals. Rabies is very serious, if left untreated it will lead to death. The most common wild animals that transmit rabies are: bats, skunks and raccoons. We rarely see rabies in domesticated animals (cats, dogs, horses, cows etc.) thanks to preventative vaccination. There are strict laws regarding rabies vaccinations, and costly testing and quarantines. Only a licensed veterinarian can give a rabies vaccination.
The CDC states that there are 40 to 70 thousand human rabies related deaths per year, with only 55 cases in the US since 1990. Rabies is spread through saliva (via bite wounds or contact of saliva with mucous membranes). The virus is not spread in blood. After being bitten, humans will become ill in 20 to 90 days, and pets can become ill anywhere up to 6 months after a bite. Once rabies develops there is no cure for animals. Very few people (approximately 8 in history) have survived rabies once symptoms occur. There are painful and costly post exposure vaccinations for humans, but not for pets. Pets need to be quarantined 45 days to 6 months depending on their vaccine status. In some cases, euthanasia may be required to test for rabies to ensure the safety of humans.
Since both Mophie and Sprocket were up to date on their rabies vaccination (great job Mophie and Sprocket's family!) we were able to booster their vaccine and they can be monitored at home for the next 45 days. This is our 3rd potential occurrence of rabies exposure in the last 2 weeks (all cats). If these cats had not been up to date on their vaccine, a much more lengthy quarantine would have been required (some of that time being in the hospital).
These recent cases of possible rabies exposure should not strike severe alarm in the community. But instead remind us that with diligent vaccination, we not only keep our pets safe, but also our human family members! Please be sure your pets are up to date. If you have questions, let us know!
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