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Five Questions About Rabies Answered

Did you know September 28th is World Rabies Day? That’s right, the disease that prompted Michael Scott to start his very own celebrity rabies awareness pro-am fun run race for the cure has its’ very own day (and if you don’t know who Michael Scott is, you need to start watching The Office like yesterday). As a pet owner, it’s important to understand what rabies is and what you can do to keep your pets, and yourself, safe.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a preventable viral disease that infects the central nervous system and can cause brain disease and death if left untreated. In the US, rabies is mostly found in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. In many other countries, rabies in dogs is still common.

How is rabies transmitted?

Rabies is transmitted by direct contact with an infected animal's saliva or brain/nervous system tissue.

What are the symptoms of rabies?

Some common symptoms of rabies in animals include aggression, attempting to bite you or other animals, excessive drooling, general sickness, problems swallowing, and trouble moving/ paralyzed.

For humans, common rabies symptoms include flu-like symptoms (weakness, discomfort, fever, headaches), pain, and itching at the bite site. These symptoms can last for days before it progresses to the brain and symptoms become more serious.

Which pets need vaccination against rabies?

In North Carolina, the law requires dogs, cats, and ferrets receive vaccination against rabies.

How can I protect my pets and myself from rabies?

For your pets:

  • Take your pets to the vet regularly and keep them up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.

  • Keep cats and ferrets indoors; keep dogs leashed and under supervision when out walking.

  • Spay/neuter your pets to reduce the number of animals that may not receive proper vet care.

  • Contact animal rescues for stray animals in your area- while it may be tempting to feed strays, they might be ill or carry any number of diseases. It’s better to get them proper vet care.

For yourself:

  • Maintain a safe distance from wildlife.

  • Wash animal bites and scratches immediately with soap and water.

  • Seek medical attention if you come into direct contact with a rabid animal. Rabies is preventable if you get it treated promptly.

Rabies is no laughing matter. By being aware of how rabies is transmitted and how easily it can be prevented, we can keep both our beloved pets and ourselves safe.


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