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  • Jennifer herne

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. The virus is secreted in saliva and is usually transmitted to people and animals by a bite from an infected animal. Only mammals can get rabies. Most cases of rabies occur in wild animals, mainly skunks, raccoons, coyotes, bats and foxes. In recent years cats have begun to emerge as a group of concern, mainly because cat owners do not vaccinate their cats before they come into contact with rabid wildlife outdoors. Improved vaccination programs and control of stray animals have been effective in preventing rabies in most pets. Approved rabies vaccines are available for cats, dogs, ferrets, horses, cattle and sheep.

Once the rabies virus enters the body, it travels along the nerves to the brain. Dogs, cats, and ferrets with rabies may show a variety of signs including fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering, and seizures. Rabid wild animals may only display unusual behavior; for example, an animal that is usually only seen at night may be seen wandering in the daytime.

What can you do to help control rabies? The number one thing you can do is vaccinate your pet against rabies. Reduce the possibility of exposure to rabies by not letting your pets roam free. Don't leave exposed garbage or pet food outside, as it may attract wild or stray animals. Wild animals should never be kept as pets. Observe all wild animals from a distance. A rabid wild animal may appear tame but don't go near it. Teach children NEVER to handle unfamiliar animals-even if they appear friendly. If you see a wild animal acting strangely never try to catch it, you should report it to the proper authority.

(Photo: Wix)

Visit your local veterinarian and have your pet vaccinated, protect your pet and your family.

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