As you may already know, multiple cases of confirmed rabies have been identified in our area. Rabies is a fatal disease. Unlike most animal diseases, the rabies virus can attack all mammals, including humans. Having your pets properly vaccinated and addressing livestock quickly will protect your household and the community.
How Rabies Affects Humans: As with all mammals, rabies is fatal in humans. Once a full-blown case of rabies develops, there is no cure. People who believe they have been bit by a rabid animal or otherwise exposed to rabies should seek help immediately. If humans receive immunization within two days of a bite, rabies will be prevented. There are no documented cases of a human developing a full-blown case of rabies when the vaccine has been delivered promptly and appropriately.
Recognizing Rabies in Animals: Infected animals can take between one week and eight months to show clinical signs. The virus kills its host by working toward the brain and causing destruction and swelling of the nerves. Once neurological signs are visible, the disease progresses very quickly. Animals demonstrating signs of rabies usually die within a week. Signs of rabies vary but generally include depression, apprehension, nervousness, biting or snapping (sometimes at hallucinations), muscular incoordination, seizures, paralysis, salivation or frothing at the mouth, and dropped jaw or inability to swallow. The one and only test for rabies requires that a vet sever the animal’s head and send the head to a sate laboratory. There is no way to test for rabies without killing the animal. However, state and local officials often use isolation to rule out rabies in pets.
How Rabies Spreads: Rabies sets up in the salivary glands of mammals. Primarily rabies spreads when infected animals bite other mammals or when uninfected animals eat the carcass of infected animals. It can also spread when infected saliva contacts the mucous membranes of other animals (as may happen when two cats hiss at one another). Wildlife such as skunks, raccoons, bats, and foxes make up the most common rabies carriers.
Vaccination: There are no documented cases of vaccinated animals contracting rabies. However, after a suspected exposure, there are some preventative measures to take. If you believe your animal has been exposed to rabies, contact Healing Springs Animal Hospital right away. They are on-call for your emergencies 24/7.
Cats and Dogs: Kittens and puppies should receive their first rabies vaccination after 12 weeks of age and before 6 months of age. They should receive a rabies booster one year after the initial vaccination. After that, cats and dogs should renew their rabies vaccinations every three years. At Healing Springs, rabies vaccinations cost only $8. Owners who bring in cats and dogs for scheduled puppy/kitten care and annual examinations will receive these vaccinations as a matter of course.
Large Animal: Large animals such as horses and llamas should receive rabies vaccinations at six months and then yearly. While farmers may find rabies vaccination for market animals to be cost prohibitive, people keeping goats, cows, and other livestock for pets should protect these pets against rabies. At Healing Springs, large animal rabies vaccinations cost only $10.
Does Limiting Pets per Household Prevent Rabies?: No. Licensed and tagged pets are rabies vaccinated and do not spread rabies. Limiting the number of pet licenses per household will actually limit the local population’s ability to adopt and vaccinate pets that otherwise could spread rabies. Furthermore, having vaccinated pets around your home may discourage rabid animals such as skunks and foxes from entering your property.