Rabies is a virus that affects the brain and spinal cord of all mammals, including dogs, cats and humans. Though preventable, there is good reason that the word “rabies” evokes fear in people. The disease has been reported in every state except Hawaii, and everywhere throughout the world except for Australia and Antarctica. Annually, rabies causes the deaths of more than 50,000 humans and millions of animals worldwide. Once symptoms appear, the disease results in fatality.
Unvaccinated animals who are allowed to roam outdoors without supervision are most at risk for infection. If they’re exposed to wild animals, they have a greater chance of fighting with infected stray or wild animals. There is no accurate test to diagnose rabies in live animals. The direct fluorescent antibody test is the most accurate test for diagnosis, but because it requires brain tissue, it can only be performed after the death of the animal. There is no treatment or cure for rabies once symptoms appear. Since rabies presents a serious public health threat, animals that are suspected of having the virus are most often euthanized.
Vaccinating your pet not only protects them from getting rabies, it protects them if they bite someone. Dogs or cats that have bitten humans are required to be confined for at least 10 days to see if signs of rabies develop. If the animal’s vaccination records are not current, a lengthy quarantine or even euthanasia may be mandated. In many areas of the country, the law requires that all domestic dogs and cats are vaccinated at or after the age of 3 months. Avoiding contact with wild animals is also necessary for prevention. You can greatly decrease chances of rabies transmission by walking your dog on a leash, and by keeping your cat indoors. Since even indoor only pets are not completely without risk, and due to the human health risk with fatal nature of the disease, we generally recommend all pets be vaccinated for rabies. If you have further questions, please ask your veterinarian.
At Pet’s Friend Animal Clinic, we use the Merial PureVax® modified live virus vaccine. Legally, we can give kittens their first Rabies vaccine at 16 weeks of age then will need an annual booster after that.
For more information, please feel free to call Pet's Friend Animal Clinic about any questions or concerns you may have at 408-739-2688.