Descriptions of rabies go back thousands of years as it has classically been one of the most feared infections of all time. It is caused by a rhabdovirus that, in most cases, the disease is transmitted through a bite wound. When wildlife comes into contact with humans or domestic animals, rabies becomes a public health problem. Despite vaccination being readily available at your local veterinarian, every year the U.S. reports the deaths of hundreds of dogs and cats from rabies, not to mention several human deaths. Worldwide, some 55,000 human deaths from rabies occur. Rabies remains an important and nearly untreatable illness even now in the 21st century. It is because of rabies that most municipalities have pet licensing requirements in order to ensure that the community’s dogs and cats are vaccinated.
The most common wildlife species to spread rabies in Missouri are the skunk, bat, raccoon, fox, and coyote. It should be noted in particular that wildlife (bats and raccoons especially) are able to gain access to indoor areas and potentially infect pets and people. While it may take a long time for the virus to incubate, once even mild symptoms begin, death can occur within 10 days. Luckily, rabies prevention is accomplished with vaccination and limiting exposure to wildlife. The standard killed-virus vaccines are available for both dogs and cats. After the initial dose, (which is good for one year) subsequent doses are generally good for three years. Call Heritage Veterinary Hospital today to ensure your family and pets are protected against rabies.
– Meagan, RVT