The number of reported rabies cases declined in 2005, according to a recent report in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Schaumburg, 111.). However, veterinarians and public health officials are still urging pet owners to vaccinate against the virus.
Vaccinating dogs and cats is the most effective method of controlling rabies,
which attacks the nervous system and is almost always fatal once symptoms occur.
There were 6,417 reported cases of animal rabies in the United States and Puerto Rico in 2005, a 6.2 percent decrease from 6,836 cases reported in 2004, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta). Only one case of rabies in a human was reported in 2005, down from eight cases in 2004.
Rabies continues to be a bigger problem among wild animals than among domestic animals. Wild animals primarily raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes accounted for more than 92 percent of all rabies cases in 2005.
However, because pets are likely to come into contact with wild animals, it is important to be vigilant about regular vaccinations, especially for cats. Cats led the list of domestic animals with reported cases of rabies in 2005. According to the CDC, there were 269 reported cases of rabies in cats in 2005, versus 76 dog related cases.
Cats have more interactions with wildlife and are more likely to be bitten by a rabid animal, said Jesse Blanton, an epidemiologist witii the CDC. Furthermore, cats don't always get the necessary vaccinations.
"Our general belief is that people are doing a good job vaccinating their dogs, but not their cats," Blanton said. "We have controlled canine rabies through the vaccine of domestic dogs. It does work."
The simple act of vaccinating a pet, Blanton said, provides protection to the animal and the humans in its life.
Veterinarians can advise pet owners about the recommended or required frequency of vaccinations needed.
Because Cats are more likely to be bitten by a rabid animal, cats led the list of domestic animals with reported cases of rabies in 2005.
What You Should Know About Rabies
Rabies is nothing to mess with.
Death almost invariably results two to ten days after the first symptoms appear. This can happen to you, me or your dog or cat. Rabies literally means madness in Latin.
In the United States, most rabies is transmitted to humans from bats.
A bite from an infected animal eventually causes
encephalitis, inflammation of the brain. Untreated, it is almost always fatal in people. Each year, more than 55,000 people around the world die from rabies. Most of these deaths are in Asia and Africa.
A rabies related death in Ohio that made the news.
A Siberian husky living in northern Ohio was bitten by a rabid raccoon and passed away shortly after. This was the first Ohio dog diagnosed with rabies since 1997.
According to the Ohio Department of Health the husky, which was a family pet, was not up to date on its vaccinations. The dog often hunted and killed wild animals on the owner's property with another pet husky.
It's sad to think that this could have been prevented with proper vaccinations.
Please get your dog or cat vaccinated for their safety and yours.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), people vaccinating their dogs and cats, an efforts toward controlling the stray population have reduced a lot of the risk.
A reduction in dog and cat rabies does NOT mean you can stop vaccinating your dog or cat. Rabies vaccines for your dog and cat are not only important, but it is also the law in some places. And if your dog or cats are not vaccinated and bites someone, it could have a very expensive outcome. A potentially infected dog or cat could be euthanized and tested for rabies, or quarantined for up to 6 months at your expense.
The laws vary with each locale. This is a very good reason to make sure your dog and cat is vaccinated for rabies and that his vaccine is current. It is also important to maintain his record of vaccination just in case something happens.
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