Preventing Rabies In Your Pets – World Rabies Day, Sept. 28

September 28th is World Rabies Day. This day is meant to raise awareness about Rabies and ultimately to prevent Rabies from occurring.

Sadly, in many countries in the world people are still infected and almost 59,000 people are killed every year from this fatal disease. R

abies is 100% preventable, but people are still exposed every year which is why this is still an important issue. Keep your family safe by talking to your vet about Rabies vaccinations for your pets. If you feel your pet has been exposed to rabies, you should seek emergency treatment immediately.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a deadly yet preventable virus (Lyssavirus) that is spread by infected animals biting other animals or transmission of their saliva to an open wound.

The Lyssavirus (meaning rage poison in Latin) commonly affects dogs, cats, humans, and any other mammal. The virus travels through the nervous system to the brain where it will cause neurological signs including changes in behaviour, aggression, paralysis and death.

Once signs are evident, Rabies is almost 100% fatal.

What is the Risk of Rabies in Canada?

Luckily (thanks to extensive vaccination programs), the risk of Rabies is low in Canada, but it still occurs. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in 2023 (up to September), there were 74 confirmed cases of Rabies in British Columbia (1,230 in Canada). Half of those cases were bats.

Other animals such as raccoons, skunks and foxes are also more common carriers, though any mammal can be infected.

What is World Rabies Day?

September 28th is designated as World Rabies Day to mark the death anniversary of Louis Pasteur, a French Chemist and microbiologist who developed the first rabies vaccine. The day aims to raise awareness about this terrible disease and promote its preventive measures to minimize the number of deaths caused by it.

What are the symptoms of Rabies?

World rabies day - symptoms of rabies

Typically, rabies symptoms develop in two stages. The initial signs of rabies in dogs may include sudden behavior changes, anxiety, shyness, aggression, fever, vocal changes, running for no apparent reason, etc.

This may be followed by the second stage of the disease, which may cause seizures, difficulty in swallowing, excessive salivation, paralysis, uncoordinated movements, etc.

Rabies is a 100% fatal disease. According to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), rabies causes 59000 human deaths yearly worldwide. And, unfortunately, in up to 99% of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for the transmission.

How can you protect yourself and your family from Rabies?

Vaccinate your pets:

Make sure your pets are always kept up to date with their vaccinations, even if they are indoors only and don’t interact with other pets. These vaccination programs are an important part of the reason why the risk of rabies is so low in Canada.

If you are bitten by a wild animal:

Wash the wound well and see a doctor immediately. Tell your doctor that you were bitten by a wild animal so that the treatment for Rabies can be started.

If your pet is bitten by a wild animal:

Wash the wound and take your pet to your veterinarian right away. Depending on the vaccination status of your pet, he may need to go into quarantine. To avoid this scenario, it is best to keep your pet up to date on its Rabies vaccine.

Keep your pets indoors.

Only allow your pets outdoors when they are supervised.

Teach your children not to approach wildlife.

Bat proof your home.

Learn more about this here.

For more information on World Rabies Day, visit these resources:

World Organization for Animal Health

Global Alliance for Rabies Control

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