While we have all heard of rabies and know it is a deadly disease, we may not be aware of how important this disease is to all of us. Every year rabies kills more than 55,000 people around the world, mainly children in Asia and Africa where vaccination of dogs is not a common practice, if done at all. Even here in the United States, there are 1-3 human fatalities from rabies every year and thousands of animal cases, including wildlife and domestic animals. Just this year in Minnesota alone we have had three cats, two dogs and one bull diagnosed with rabies. So here are some important facts about rabies everyone should know:
– To keep dogs legally current on rabies vaccination, your dog must be vaccinated every 1-3 -years depending on your city (it is every 2 years in Fridley). Cats must be vaccinated every year to be legally current on rabies vaccination if using the safer feline vaccines. Cats can go every three years if a less safe dog vaccine is used and it is allowed in your city.
– Vaccination of your pet for rabies is very important. If your pet does bite someone and is not current on rabies vaccination, your pet may have to be euthanized or will have to be quarantined for months until it is proven they are not infected and have not developed the disease.
– Most people think of rabies in domestic animals as the animal showing aggressive behavior. Aggression is the most common form in dogs and cats but in horses and cattle and other farm animals, they often become lethargic, lose their balance and seem to lose all care about their surroundings. This lethargic form can happen in dogs and cats also and was what happened with the most recent case of a rabid dog found in Sterns County this month.
– Skunks and bats are the most common wildlife with rabies in Minnesota. Raccoons can also have rabies but it is more common along the East Coast.
– Skunks often behave oddly when they have rabies, including coming close to people without fear.
– Bats show no signs of rabies, only carry the disease, so all bats must be considered infected.
– All bat bites or possible bat bites, such as a bat found in the room when you wake or a bat in a child’s room, must be considered exposure to rabies. See a medical professional immediately.
– Once signs of rabies occur, it is nearly always fatal in people so if there is any possibility of expose to rabies, see a medical professional to determine if there is need of therapy.
– Stay safe – keep your pets vaccinated and do not approach any strangely behaving wildlife or bats.
Please feel free to call and talk to one of our doctors about rabies and rabies vaccination at 763-574-9892.