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 rabies is something we’ve successfully vaccinated against and it’s 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. For example, the DeSoto Parish Animal Control has confirmed multiple cases of skunks with rabies; most recently they diagnosed 1 case in August 2018. 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. And when outside, please try to avoid interacting with wild animals in general — even if your pet is fully vaccinated!
For those unaware, the rabies virus is zoonotic (meaning it can pass from species to species) and 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. The early signs include fever, headaches, and general malaise; it progresses quickly 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. In July 2017, twelve people in Northwest Georgia received post exposure rabies treatment after coming in contact with rabid a kitten and two rabid puppies (all unrelated cases). The Center of Disease Control estimates that 40,000 doses of rabies 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 that you are aware when your pet is due for their rabies vaccination. Unlike other vaccines, the rabies vaccine is required by Louisiana state law and needs to be administered by a licensed veterinarian during an appointment. The best ways to ensure your Prytania 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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