Rabies is a Reality
When you hear the word Rabies what comes to mind? Perhaps, a rabid canine character from an old Stephen King movie? Thankfully Kujo is a fictional character and apposes no hazard in real life. However, the Rabies virus has become a present threat to our community. In 2017, Hillsborough County reported 10 cases of Rabies. Where as in 2018, they have already confirmed 4 cases in the last 6 months. Our Tampa Bay veterinarian wants to ensure owners have the right information when it comes to this fatal disease.
- What is Rabies? Rabies originates from a Latin word that means “To rage” because animals with this virus are often violent. It is a contagious virus that is zoonotic, meaning it is transmittable to humans and animals.
- How is it contracted? Rabies is transmitted via contact with saliva from an infected animal. Although rabies is usually transmitted through a bite, it has been known to spread through a scratch or even through an existing open wound.
- Who can carry and contract the virus? Any mammal can contract the Rabies virus from humans to mice. The most common Rabies carriers in the U.S are raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes.
- Can a pet be tested for rabies? Unfortunately, an animal must be deceased to obtain a sample of the brain for testing.
- Is it curable? There is no cure for Rabies and can be fatal once symptoms appear.
- What happens if my pet encounters or is bitten by a potentially rabid animal? First, you should contact your veterinarian. Seeking immediate medical attention is important for not only the threat of Rabies but infections as well. Your pet will be fully examined for scratches, puncture wounds, and any signs of injury. Depending on the status of your pet’s Rabies vaccination your veterinarian will determine the need for additional vaccines.
- Should I report the incident? It is important to call the Florida Department of Health to report any kind of wildlife incident. Rabid animals tend to exhibit odd behaviors such as the loss of fear of humans and may approach instead of fleeing. Nocturnal animals, for example raccoons, may be seen during the day. These unusual behaviors should be reported to your local animal services for further investigation.
- How do I protect my pet from a wildlife encounter? First and foremost, it is important to keep dogs on a short leash while walking in potential wildlife areas. This will not only prevent unfortunate encounters but keep them from straying off, eating something they should not, as well as other dangers. If your pet comes face to face with a wild animal, protect yourself first. Should a physical altercation occur do not attempt to come between your pet and the wild animal. Shout and make a lot of noise to scare away the animal and encourage your pet to come to you.
In conclusion, Rabies is frightening, nonetheless protecting your pet with a routine Rabies vaccine will help minimize their risk of contracting the fatal virus. By reporting any suspicious animal behavior and limiting your pet’s exposure we can help keep the virus from spreading. If you have any questions or concerns regarding Rabies vaccinations or the virus itself, feel free to call our hospital at (813)501-4985.