Rabies: A Fatal Disease That Affects People Too

Rabies is a generally fatal viral disease that affects the central nervous system and can infect all warm-blooded animals, including humans.  The virus lives in the saliva, and animals can contract rabies from a bite from an infected animal.  In Europe, foxes are the main reservoir while in North America the skunk, fox, raccoon and bat are important sources of infection.  In Asia, Africa and Latin America the main reservoir is not wildlife but stray dogs, and in these areas human infection and fatalities are more common.  Rabies occurs in every continent except Australia and Antarctica. Most countries are affected with the exception of a few island countries such as Great Britain, Ireland, Japan and Hawaii. Norway, Sweden and the Iberian Peninsula are also free of rabies.

There is no treatment for an animal with rabies.  If rabies is suspected, the pet has to be kept in isolation and prevented from escaping or injuring someone. Your veterinarian is required by law to notify the local and state or provincial animal disease regulatory authorities.  These authorities will determine the steps necessary to properly protect the public.

All dogs, cats and ferrets should be vaccinated against this deadly disease.  THIS VACCINE IS REQUIRED BY LAW, and must be given by a licensed veterinarian.   Vaccination promotes the production of antibodies but is only effective if given before the virus enters the nervous system.  Rabies vaccines for dogs, cats, horses and ferrets are extremely safe and effective.

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