September 28 is World Rabies Day!

Because of the success of preventative measures in our corner of the globe, many people generally don't give a deadly illness like rabies much thought except when they get their pets vaccinated for it. In other parts of the world, though, like Asia, Africa and the Middle East, rabies is a significant health risk not only for dogs and cats, but also for humans, where it kills tens of thousands of people and countless more dogs and cats every year. 

To combat this problem, the Global Alliance of Rabies Control (GARC) established World Rabies Day in 2007 to educate and promote awareness about rabies prevention. This initiative provides an opportunity (1) to acknowledge the severity of rabies, (2) to remember that continuing prevention is the key to maintaining a low incidence of the disease here in the U.S. and other western nations, and (3) to further the goal of achieving zero rabies deaths from dog bites by 2030.

Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus that attacks the brain, and it can affect any warm-blooded animal, including dogs, cats, and humans. All mammals can contract rabies, but some are more susceptible than others. Foxes, skunks, raccoons, and bats are particularly prone to the disease and are prone to infecting other animals. While rabies is most often transmitted by the bite of a rabid animal to another animal, the disease may also be contracted as a result of handling dead wildlife. The vast majority (99%) of human cases are the result of dog bites. 

According to GARC, rabies can be found on every continent except Antarctica. In most developed countries, like the United States, the disease is well controlled through ongoing public health measures, such as vaccination laws. In Louisiana (and most states), dogs and cats are required by state law to be vaccinated for rabies

Some parts of the world, however, are not so fortunate. GARC estimates that 3.3 billion people live with the daily risk of contracting rabies and 55,000 people die from the disease each year. Over 90 percent of these deaths occur in Africa, Asia and the Middle East where canine rabies is widespread.

The rabies vaccine is very safe and effective. Vaccination for rabies is initially performed at four months of age for dogs and cats. Revaccination should occur one year later and then every three years thereafter.

Contact us today to schedule your dog or cat's rabies vaccination.

 

This blog post originally appeared on The Drake Center.

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