Rabies is the deadliest disease on earth and is almost 100% fatal once clinical symptoms appear. 55,000 people die every year from rabies, which is a completely preventable disease. The majority of deaths (90%) occur in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Most human cases arise from dog bites, however, there are other reservoirs of the disease including bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes. In countries like the United States, disease is well-controlled through public health measures. This means that vaccination of pets has dramatically reduced the risk for rabies.
Rabies prevention starts with the owner. All dogs, cats, and ferrets should be vaccinated. Spaying and neutering your pets can reduce their tendency to roam free, and therefore reduce the risk of exposure. Also, it’s important to limit your family’s risk of exposure. Avoid wild animals and stray dogs and try to keep bats away from homes and other buildings.
Saturday, September 28, 2013 is World Rabies Day, an annual reminder of why rabies prevention is so important. Talk to your veterinarian about rabies vaccination, licensing, disease, and prevention. For additional information on disease and prevention, refer to the Center for Disease Control.