Observed every year on September 28th, World Rabies Day is meant to raise awareness about rabies and encourage prevention through pet vaccination. Although rabies is 100% preventable, over 59,000 people die from it each year. World Rabies Day is held on the anniversary of the death of Louis Pasteur, a French chemist who developed the first rabies vaccine.
Rabies is a virus that's spread from animal to animal or animal to human, mainly through bites. Once the virus enters the body, it attaches to nerve cells and wreaks havoc on the nervous system. If untreated, rabies can infect the brain and result in death. Some of the most common symptoms of rabies in animals include:
• Confusion or disorientation
• Foaming at the mouth
• Difficulty walking
Rabies is usually transmitted through a deep bite or scratch from a rabid animal. However, transmission can also occur if the saliva of an infected animal enters a human's mucous membranes or fresh wound.
Although rabid dogs account for a large number of cases, bats are now the top source of human rabies deaths in North and South America. Human deaths due to exposure to raccoons, foxes, skunks, and other wild carnivores are rare, and rodent bites don't transmit rabies.
Although rabies is a fatal disease, the good news is that it is 100% preventable. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are about 5,000 cases of rabies each year in the United States, but only one to two people die annually.
Be sure to bring your pet to the veterinarian regularly to ensure that its rabies vaccinations are up to date. You can also spay or neuter your pets to prevent unwanted babies from being born, especially those that won't be properly cared for or vaccinated. Lastly, it's important to call animal control if you see stray animals in your neighborhood, as they can be unvaccinated or carrying rabies.
At Pet Hospitals of Hawaii, we are committed to keeping your pet up to date on its vaccinations and helping it live a long and healthy life.