Rabies is once again in the news. There have been 2 cases of rabies that have made the headlines. Most recently a bobcat in Georgia was confirmed positive with rabies after it bit 2 dogs and late last year, there was a case in Ohio involving a Siberian Husky.
Rabies is a reportable disease and it is contagious to humans. For both humans and domestic animals, the primary source of rabies is the bite of a rabid wild animal. The most common of these are skunk, raccoon, bat, and fox. Currently, the number of cats infected with rabies has surpassed that of dogs. The main reasons are that there are now more cats than dogs and cats tend to roam more often.
Rabies is a fatal disease. There is no treatment for it once the human or animal starts to show symptoms. If you or your pet are exposed to a confirmed rabid animal, a rabies vaccination is given. This vaccine will cause your body to produce antibodies to fit off the rabies infection. This is the only thing that works. Here in North America human cases of rabies are very rare, but elsewhere in the world, human rabies is a serious problem.
So what do we do to protect ourselves and our pets from rabies? Firstly, we should avoid interacting with wild animals and animals we do not know. If you or anyone in your family is bitten or scratched by an animal, it should be reported to the local health unit and your family doctor. Contact your veterinarian if your pet was exposed to a bat, raccoon, skunk, or other wild carnivore.
For at least 50 years veterinarians have advocated vaccination of pets yearly with rabies vaccines. This should NO LONGER be recommended or advocated. Yearly vaccinations can do more harm than good. This goes for most other canine and feline vaccines as well. Dr Jean Dodds’ vaccine research has shown that many vaccines confer immunity for anywhere from 3 years to life! Her recommendations and ones that many integrative practitioners, including myself, follow are to vaccinate puppies and kittens, booster at 1 year and after that do a blood titer to see if vaccines are warranted. If your veterinarian does not believe in titers, at least your pet should be vaccinated only every 3 years.
When your pet has to be vaccinated, it is a good idea to give some immune support such as Homeopathic Thuya or Immune Support Gold from Petwellbeing. Be sure to discuss your pet’s risk for these infectious diseases so you and your veterinarian can make sensible choices for your pet’s health.