September 28 is World Rabies Day!

Because of the success of preventative measures in our corner of the globe, many people generally do not give a deadly illness like rabies much thought.

World Rabies Day, an initiative developed by the Global Alliance of Rabies Control (GARC) in 2007 to educate and promote awareness about rabies prevention, provides a great opportunity to acknowledge the severity of rabies endemics in other parts of the world as well as to remember that continuing prevention is the key to maintaining a low incidence of the disease at home.

Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that attacks the brain. It can affect any warm-blooded animal, including dogs, cats and humans, and is almost always fatal. All mammals can contract rabies, but some are more susceptible than others. Foxes, skunks, raccoons and bats are particularly prone to the disease and can easily infect others.

world rabies day vaccination

While rabies is most often transmitted by the bite of a rabid animal to another mammal, the disease may also be contracted as a result of handling dead wildlife.

According to GARC, rabies can be found on every continent except Antarctica. In most developed countries, like the United States, the disease is well controlled through ongoing public health measures, such as vaccination laws.

Some parts of the world, however, are not so fortunate. GARC estimates that 3.3 billion people live with the daily risk of contracting rabies and 55,000 people die from the disease each year. Over 90 percent of these deaths occur in Africa, Asia and the Middle East where canine rabies is widespread.

In most states, dogs are required by state law to be vaccinated for rabies. While cats do not always have the same requirement, vaccination is still highly recommended.

The rabies vaccine is very safe and effective. Vaccination for rabies is initially performed at four months of age. Revaccination should occur one year later and then every three years thereafter.

Contact your vet today to schedule your dog or cat for the rabies vaccination. Don't have one yet? We can help you find a local veterinarinan.

Contributing DVM