Monday, July 1, 2013

Rabies in the News

Ahh, rabies. My favorite disease. I recently read Rabid: A cultural history of the world's most diabolical virus. A fascinating book, which a friend over at Vets Behaving Badly reviewed nicely. Rabies is almost 100% fatal, but fortunately, we have stellar vaccines for it. Thanks a million, Monsieur Pasteur!

A question I get on about a monthly basis is:

"Why do I have to vaccinate my pet when it never goes outside or sees any other animals?"

Just because your cat is indoor only or your dog doesn't go to dog parks doesn't mean it isn't at risk for diseases, especially rabies. An indoor only cat tested positive for rabies a few months ago after it bit the owners for no apparent reason. Most likely this cat came in contact with a rabid bat that mistakenly flew into the house. In case you are unfamiliar with our feline friends, they are avid hunters and a bat fluttering around a room would make an irresistible target. Bat teeth are so sharp and the bites are so small that they often go unnoticed, even when it is a person who is bitten. That is why rabies vaccines are so important.

Just today, a rabies positive dog was found in Yellowstone County in Billings, Montana and a 60 day quarantine has been issued. You can read the full story here.

Some countries (or states) in the world believe they are "rabies free." My friends from vet school will know why I put that phrase in quotes. Viruses do not respect national borders, and the world is now smaller than ever. See Rabies Returns to Spain and Pet Cat in Arkansas.

The eastern seaboard is a hot bed for rabies. See Chesapeake CatTwo cats and fox in Baltimore,  and Fox In South Carolina.

Google rabies and there are dozens more stories about recent rabies positive animals.

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