Rabies remains the cause of death for more than 55,000 people every year and in 2012 there were more than 6,000 reported cases of rabies in the United States. September 28th is World Rabies Day, to raise awareness for this disease world wide.
Rabies is a disease that is transmitted to humans from animals that is caused by a virus. It is usually spread by contact with infectious material such as saliva transmitted through bites or scratches. Dogs are the most common carrier of rabies, contributing to 55,000 deaths annually (predominately in rural areas in Africa and Asia). 40% of people bitten by a suspected rabid animal are children under age 15 (per the World Health Organization).
Death by Rabies is long and painful, beginning with symptoms of a fever and pain at the wound site and ending in paralysis and cardio-respiratory arrest.
Can Rabies in dogs be prevented?
Rabies can be eliminated in dogs through proper vaccinations thereby limiting the risk of rabies to humans.
Rabies vaccinations in dogs begin at 3 months, followed by a second dose a month later and a booster dose of vaccine every year (3 year vaccines are also available).
How can you tell if an animal is rabid?
Signs of rabies in dogs aren’t always immediately noticeable but include:
- excessive salivation, foaming at the mouth
- change in behavior including not eating, unprovoked aggression, depression
- eating objects such as stone, paper, wood, metal, etc.
If you have been exposed to an animal with rabies seek treatment immediately, as Rabies is 100% fatal if not treated. Anyone exposed to an animal bite, scratch or lick on broken skin should be treated for PEP (post exposure prophylaxis) immediately following.
Safeguard against rabies:
- Keep your pets on your own property
- Keep a safe distance from wild life
- Do not take in wild animals as pets
- Vaccinate your dogs against rabies
- If you suspect you have come in contact with a rabid animal, seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY