Rabies is an ancient disease that has been afflicting both animals and humans for thousands of years. When we hear the word rabies we often imagine a sick animal, foaming at the mouth, perhaps a crazed gleam in their eye. However Rabies can have a variety of symptoms, some more obvious then others, and can affect any warm-blooded animal or human.
Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute inflammation in the brain. It is most commonly transmitted through a bite as the virus is usually present in the nerves and saliva of asymptomatic animal. Any warm blooded animal can be infected and transmit the disease. Fortunately due to the strict enforcement of vaccination laws, rabies in the United States affecting humans is rare with only a couple cases a year, however there are still thousands of confirmed cases each year for animals.
The symptoms of rabies vary making it often difficult to diagnose. Most cases begin with a tingling in the infected area and can cause an animal to bite, scratch, or constantly lick the infected area, followed by one or more of the following symptoms: aggressive behavior, uncontrolled excitement, loss of appetite, disorientation, hypersensitivity, paralysis, and foaming at the mouth.
It is almost impossible to diagnose rabies unless death has occurred, as it is the brain itself that needs to be tested for the disease. Once a human or animal has been bit it can take anywhere from less then one week to a year for the first set of symptoms to appear. This often depends on the severity of the bite, the type of animal that bit, and the location of the wound. Which brings us to the importance of vaccinating your animals against the disease.
Here in Ventura County it is mandatory to have your dog vaccinated against rabies and failure to do so can result in heavy fines. Not only protecting your animal from the disease, updated vaccination records will also help protect them if they ever happen to get into a tussle with another animal or bite a human.
Even animals that rarely leave home, such as house cats, need to be vaccinated. People are often surprised to find out the high numbers of cats afflicted with Rabies, even if they are inside only. Vaccinating your animal is easy and affordable. Here at the Humane society of Ventura County we host a low cost shot clinic the first and third Saturday of every month from 10-1 with Dr. Lewis veterinary. A rabies vaccination for your pet is between $10-$15 and will not only protect your pets but help bring piece of mind. For more information on how you can protect your pet from rabies please contact your veterinarian.