On Sept.7,2007 Dr. Charles Rupprecht a rabies expert from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and a Federal Health Expert declard a small victory agaist a fatal and almost untreatable virus has disappeared from the U.S.A.
While dogs may still become infected from raccoons, skunks or bats, they will not catch dog-specific rabies from another dog,
We don't want to misconstrue that rabies has been eliminated only dog rabies virus has been.
Rabies evolves to match the animals it infects, and the strain most specific to dogs has not been seen anywhere in the United States since 2004
While the incubation period for rabies is as long as six years in humans, in dogs it is only six months.
Even though we have rabies viruses circulating among raccoons and foxes and bats, the dog rabies virus, which is the most responsible for dog-to-dog transmission and which is still the greatest burden to humans, it is that virus that has been eliminated.
Rabies kills 55,000 people a year globally, according to the World Health Organization. It is easily prevented with a vaccine, but many people do not realize they have been infected and once symptoms begin to show, it is almost impossible to treat.
Only one person a Wisconsin girl who was put into an intentional coma in 2004 has ever been known to have survived rabies infection.Attempts to treat three victims in the United States and one in Canada have failed. The victims all died.
The virus can infect virtually all mammals, but like most viruses it evolves and can be genetically, species-specific.
Strains are well characterized for bats, raccoons and skunks for instance, as well as for dogs.
A dog rabies is very different from a skunk rabies virus.
While cats are susceptible, there is not a known rabies strain specific to domestic cats.
Mandatory vaccination has created what is known as herd immunity in U.S. dogs and it will be vital to continue this to protect dogs and people from this virus.
The elimination of canine rabies in the United States represents one of the major public health success stories in the last 50 years.
However, there is still much work to be done to prevent and control rabies globally.
Canine rabies is still very common in many countries, including much of Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, India, China, the Philippines and elsewhere.
Some island nations such as Japan, New Zealand, Barbados, Fiji, Maldives, and Seychelles are rabies-free. Greece, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Uruguay and Chile are also free of rabies.
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