What is Rabies?
Rabies is a zoonotic viral disease in mammals that is typically transmitted by the bite of an infected animal. The virus then travels through the peripheral nervous system into the central nervous system. Ultimately, neurological signs will develop leading to the animal’s death. In North America, most cases of rabies are found in wildlife such as bats, foxes, raccoons, and skunks (CDC Data). The most common source of human rabies in the United States is bats.
Why should you keep your pet’s rabies vaccine current?
Rabies vaccines are effective in preventing the transmission of rabies to dogs and cats. North Carolina state law requires that all dogs and cats be vaccinated against rabies. This law is to protect both pets and humans. A lapse in vaccine status can have significant consequences if your pet is exposed to an animal suspected or confirmed to have rabies (e.g. outdoor wildlife encounter, bat in the house, etc.). In a situation such as this, the local health director can require that a pet be euthanized or placed in a quarantine for up to 6 months (for more information see the NC Rabies Control Manual).
What should you do if your pet (with a current rabies vaccine status) is exposed to a potentially rabid animal?
If your pet’s rabies vaccine status is current and your pet is exposed to a potentially rabid animal (e.g. fights with a wild animal, a bat is found in the house, etc.), you should have your pet’s rabies vaccine boostered within 5 days. Note that if a bat is found in the home, you should also contact your local health department for additional guidance.
Does your dog or cat need a rabies vaccine?
Call today to schedule an appointment!
Information to Educate Children about Rabies:
Want more information about rabies? Check out these great resources:
- Lawndale Pet Health Library – Rabies in Dogs
- Lawndale Pet Health Library – Rabies in Cats
- Centers for Disease Control Rabies Information
- Global Alliance for Rabies Control
- Bats and rabies
- Kids and rabies
- NC Rabies Control Manual
- AVMA Bat Rabies Brochure
~Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS, MS