Rabies

Rabies is a FATAL virus that is spread through bites/saliva of an infected animal.  The usual reserviours of the disease are skunks, raccoons, bats, and foxes.  Any warm-blooded animal that is not vaccinated may contract the disease if bitten, so it it imperative that your cats, dogs and ferrets are kept up to date on vaccinations.  Not only does this protect your pet, but it also protects you in the event that your pet is bitten.

Unvaccinated pets that are bitten by rabid animals must either be euthanized (put down) or kept in strict quarantine for 6 months.

If you or someone in your family is exposed to a rabid animal, rabies can be prevented through a series of shots called rabies post-exposure prophylaxis, but this must be started immediately.  Once symptons occur, it is too late for treatment.

If you are bitten by any animal (domestic or wild), immediately wash the wound well with soap and water and see your doctor. Contact animal control to assist in capturing the animal for observation or rabies testing.

Remember that cows, horses, sheep, goats and any other warm-blooded mammal can get rabies, and we at the practice have seen several cows this year that have tested positive, as well as one horse.  For this reason, we highly recommend that rabies vaccine be given yearly to all horses.

In wild animals, as well as small animals, symptoms can include inability to walk normally, excessive salivating, and aggressive behavior.  However, these are also symptoms for several other diseases as well.  In large animals, we tend to see ‘down’ animals with high fevers and excessive salivation.  As this can also be the case for several other medical conditions, we need to be particularly careful when handling these animals and keep our hands out of their mouths.

Vaccinate

For more information:   http://www.cdc.gov/features/RabiesSafeFamily/

http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/lhd/centralshenandoah/eh/rabies/index.htm

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