Over the years, we’ve made progress preventing rabies in our furry friends, but we’re not entirely in the clear just yet. There are still roughly 7,000 cases of animal rabies—mostly in wild animals—reported in the United States each year. Here are some tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association and World Rabies Day to keep you and your pets safe.
What is rabies and how is it transmitted?
Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It is transmitted via saliva from an infected animal, typically through a bite wound but occasionally through an open cut on the skin or the eyes, ears, or mouth of a person or animal.
What animals can become infected with rabies?
Rabies is only seen in mammals, and most cases occur in wild animals—skunks, raccoons, bats, coyotes, and foxes are the most commonly infected in the wild. In recent years, cats have surpassed dogs as the most common domestic species to be infected with the virus, primarily because some cat owners don’t vaccinate their cats or supervise them if they go outdoors.
What are the clinical signs in animals?
The most common signs in dogs, cats, and ferrets are fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering, and seizures. Horses, cattle, sheep, and goats may also display those symptoms in addition to depression, self-mutilation, or hypersensitivity to light. Wild animals may only exhibit unusual behavior (for example, nocturnal animals seen wandering in the daytime).
How can I prevent my pet from getting rabies?
What if my pet gets bitten?
Information courtesy of the American Veterinary Medical Association and World Rabies Day