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The Threat of Rabies

 

                                                                                 Understanding Rabies

Rabies is a virus that affects the pet’s nervous system.  If left untreated, it causes death of the pet.  The disease can be easily spread from one animal to another and can also be spread from a pet to a human. 

 

  • The Effects of Rabies

Rabies is a serious disease that receives a great deal of attention from the medical community.  In fact, the United States spends $300 million every year in order to prevent and treat this highly infectious disease. 

All mammals, including pets, livestock and people can be infected with rabies.  Over 90% of animal rabies cases were found in wildlife, for example skunks, raccoons, foxes and bats.  Another 8% of these cases were in domesticated animals, for example, cattle, dogs and cats.  Throughout the United States, the state of Texas has the greatest number of reported cases of rabies. 

When an animal becomes infected by rabies, it may not appear sick at first.  Over time, however, the virus travels to the brain through the nerves.  After the virus reaches the brain, the virus multiplies rapidly and the animal starts to show signs of the disease. At this time the virus also passes to the salivary glands. The disease spreads to other animals through a bite by a rabid animal. Symptoms of rabies include a fever, anxiety, insomnia, partial paralysis, confusion, excitation, agitation, hallucination, hypersalivation, hydrophobia (fear of water) and difficulty swallowing.  Animals typically die within seven days of the appearance of symptoms.
 

  • Rabies in Domestic Animals

Unfortunately, 8% of rabies cases reported occur in domesticated animals with the majority occuring in cats.  These cases can be prevented though if owners have their pets vaccinated.  Vaccinations are extremely important in the prevention of rabies.  A domestic pet can be bitten by an animal in the wild that has rabies and then become infected with the disease. A pet with rabies can easily infect its owner.  An animal that is vaccinated however, will not acquire the disease. 

Keeping your pet indoors can also prevent rabies.  If your pet does need to go outside to play or to empty waste, you should keep a close eye on your pet to ensure a wild animal does not bite it.  You should also call animal control in order to have all stray animals removed from the neighborhood as these animals are more likely to be infected or  not  vaccinated.  More than 90% of the cases of rabies were in domesticated pets before vaccination became legally required.