Everyday someone asks why they need to vaccinate their pet against rabies. The assumption is that rabies is no longer a risk for domesticated animals, that it's something we've successfully vaccinated against and is no longer a threat. In reality, while there hasn't been a documented case of rabies in Louisiana involving cats or dogs since 2000, rabies still remains an epidemic in Louisiana wildlife. According to the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association, this year the DeSoto Parish Animal Control has confirmed multiple skunks with rabies in an area bordering the Caddo Parish line to the north, the Texas state line to the west, I49 to the east, and SH3015 to the south. In this defined area, 9 skunks have been confirmed to be infected but there is an additional 26 suspected cases. Even though this is far from Orleans Parish, for our Prytania Pet's sake we should make sure that our furry friends are fully vaccinated against this awful disease. Furthermore, when outside please try to avoid interacting with wild animals in general even if your pet is fully vaccinated!
But for those unaware of what the rabies virus is, it is a zoonotic virus (meaning that it can pass from species to species) that can be transmitted through direct contact of the rabid animal's saliva. The most common type of direct contact is a bite wound, but a scratch can also inoculate the virus if there is infected saliva either on scratched skin or on the paw of the infected animal who then scratches another animal or human. Rabies is deadly and progresses quickly. The early signs include fever, headaches, and general malaise; it progresses with visible neurological symptoms such as paralysis, excitation/agitation, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia. If humans are exposed to the rabies virus, there are successful treatment options available. Currently, 12 people in Northwest Georgia are receiving rabies prophylaxis after coming in contact with infected domesticated animals. The Center of Disease Control estimates that 40,000 doses of prophylaxis are given annually, and there has never been a vaccine failure in the United States. If you come across a potentially rabid animal, please contact Animal Control right away.
As your veterinarian, it is our duty to ensure you are aware when your pet is due for their rabies vaccination. Unlike other vaccinations, the rabies vaccine is the only vaccination required by law in the state of Louisiana and needs to be administered by a licensed veterinarian during an appointment. On every receipt at Prytania Vet, we print your Prytania pet’s reminders which include the date of their last vaccination. The best ways to ensure that your pet stays up to date is to book your next annual visit at the end of your appointment -- you’ll never have that “Oh no they’re overdue!” moment again if they’re forwarded booked!
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