Christy Stone, DVM
All Pets Medicine, Surgery, and Rehabilitation Clinic
OK, so we all know that your pets should be vaccinated for rabies, but why? Yes, the cities all require it for licensure and your veterinarian always recommends it, but what is the real prevalence? I think you’ll be surprised…
First of all, what exactly is Rabies?? According to the Minnesota Department of Animal Health (MN DAH): “Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals that affects the central nervous system causing encephalopathy leading to death. The virus is most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. There are two forms of rabies: (1) dumb rabies, in which an animal acts sick, does not eat and is lethargic (mimics a lot of sick pets!) and (2) furious rabies, in which an animal shows aggressive and vicious behavior. Over the past 100 years, there has been a substantial decrease in the number of human rabies cases due to the availability of a vaccine and vigilant surveillance by public health officials.”
Because rabies is a reportable disease (when your veterinarian diagnoses it, they must report it to the MN DAH), we can easily find out how many cases, in what species, and where they were for any given time period. For 2013, MN DAH reports “There were 62 animals diagnosed with rabies in Minnesota last year. As is typical, wildlife comprise the majority of rabies cases in Minnesota with 36 bats and 20 skunks testing positive in 2013. In addition, two bovine, one caprine, and two equine tested positive along with this most recent feline case.” And that’s just how many were diagnosed…imagine how many were never diagnosed!!
We know that incidence rates should and indeed are lower in our companion animals (dogs and cats) because this is the population most commonly vaccinated. The vaccine is VERY effective.
We often get asked why “indoor only” pets need to be vaccinated as they are not exposed to the outdoor population. As you can see, Minnesota had 36 bats test positive for rabies last year. Bats are really good at getting into homes and thus pose a potential threat to our “indoor only” pets.
Here’s what the Minnesota Department of Animal Health has to say…
“Although the majority of rabies cases occur in wildlife, pets and other domestic animals can be infected with rabies if they are bitten by rabid animals. Protecting your pets from rabies is extremely important, especially given the substantial amount of contact humans have with their pets.
If your pet is bitten or scratched by a wild animal, the wild animal should be submitted for rabies testing. Specimens can be submitted to the MN Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory with the assistance of your veterinarian. If the wild animal is not available for testing, contact your veterinarian or the Minnesota Board of Animal Health for advice.”
Long story short…it’s safest to keep your pets current on their Rabies vaccine!!
Post Tagged with Christy Stone DVM, Dr. Jenn Heesen, Dr. Tim Klein, mankato veterinarian, mapleton veterinarian, Rabies