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World Rabies Day a Good Reminder to Vaccinate Dogs, Cats and Horses
September 28 is World Rabies Day and veterinarians at Colorado State University are reminding their clients to be sure their pet’s rabies vaccine is up to date.
 
“One of the more frequent questions asked by our clients is whether their pet reall​y needs a rabies vaccine,” said Dr. Rebecca Ruch-Gallie, Director of Community Practice and Shelter Medicine at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. “The short answer: yes.”
 
Rabies is a virus that attacks the central nervous system of most mammals.  The virus is usually transmitted by the bite of a rabid animal.  The first signs of rabies can easily be confused for other illnesses and include fever and lethargy; but neurologic signs follow shortly and can range from paralysis to agitation.  Excess salivation and difficulty swallowing are the classic signs of rabies infection. Death can occur within days after the first signs appear.
 
“Most counties across the continental United States require dogs and cats to have a current rabies vaccine,” said Dr. Ruch-Gallie. “Regardless of the legal reason, vaccination is still the best method we have for preventing this fatal disease."
 
According to the World Health Organization:
 
  • Rabies occurs in more than 150 countries and territories.
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  • Worldwide, there are more than 55,000 human deaths from rabies annually.
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  • Each year, 15 million people receive post-exposure vaccination.
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  • 40 percent of people who are bitten by suspect rabid animals are children under 15 years of age.
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  • Dogs are the source of 99 percent of human rabies deaths.
In the United States, aggressive vaccination against rabies in pets has shifted the main source of rabies from dogs to wildlife; primarily raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.  Bat rabies is still the most commonly seen in Colorado but, since 2008, there has been a large increase in rabid skunks.  The Colorado Department of Public Health reports that through August of this year, 64 animals tested positive for rabies.  At least 14 humans and 49 domestic animals were exposed to these positive cases.
 
“So, yes,” said Dr. Ruch-Gallie. “Please keep your companion animals (dogs, cats and horses) vaccinated as recommended by your veterinarian.  If you or your animal is bit, contact the appropriate family doctor or the local health department immediately.”
 
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Dr. Ruch Gallie in Community Practice

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Colorado State University
Veterinary Teaching Hospital
300 West Drake Road
Fort Collins, Colorado, 80523

Phone:
(970) 297-5000

Fax:
(970) 297-1205

 
Appointments & Questions:
(970) 297-5000