Okaw Veterinary Clinic

140 W. Sale
Tuscola, IL 61953

(217)253-3221

www.okawvetclinic.com

Rabies Kills

 

Cases of Rabies in animals and humans have decreased dramatically because we have a vaccine to protect animals and people. However we still see cases of Rabies. So it is important to keep your pet vaccinated and protected against Rabies. Rabies is still such an important and deadly disease, that World Rabies Day was created to help raise awareness about the disease and how to prevent it.

The map to the right shows counties, in pink, where animals tested positive for Rabies in 2013. In 2012 6,163 cases of Rabies were reported in the United States. Of these cases, 257 were cats, 84 were dogs and 1 was a person. Over 55,000 people die world-wide from Rabies every year.

Dogs in the state of Illinois are required by law to be vaccinated for Rabies. Cats vaccination requirement varies depending on what county you live in. Champaign County requires cats to be vaccinated. Douglas County does not require cats to be vaccinated. We highly recommend having cats vaccinated for Rabies. Cats who go outside are exposed to Rabies, just like dogs. Even cats who live indoor only should be vaccinated. Mice and bats can come inside the house and bite your cat. Inside cats can can also sneak out of the house, without anyone knowing, and be exposed to Rabies. Dogs and cats are given their first Rabies vaccine when they are four months old. The vaccine is boostered every one to three years, depending on the type of vaccine given. It is important for your pet to have an exam prior to receiving any vaccination. If your pet is ill, the vaccine can make them sicker. Giving a vaccine to an ill pet can also cause the vaccine to not be effective at preventing the disease.

Rabies is disease caused by a virus that is almost always fatal. Infected dogs, cats, skunks, foxes, bats, raccoons and other animals can spread the disease. The virus can be transmitted through saliva, blood and nerve tissues (brain, spine, nerves). So, for example, your neighbor has a dog Fluffy and does not keep Fluffy up to date on her Rabies vaccine. Fluffy is in the back yard playing and an infected skunk wanders into their yard. Fluffy doesn't like this intruder so she attacks the skunk. During the fight, the skunk bites Fluffy. The skunk's saliva and the Rabies virus enters Fluffy's body through the bite wounds. In a few days Fluffy may start to behave differently (hide and act nervous), snap at her owners, wonder around the house, stumble as she walks and drool. Fluffy will die from her Rabies infection. If Fluffy had her vaccine, she would have been protected. We do not have a cure for rabies and it is almost always fatal. This is why vaccinating for Rabies is so important.
If your pet has been bitten by any animal, bring him or her to the vet. We will wash out the wounds and prescribe medication. Tell us what happened to your pet (what animal bit yours, was the animal acting strange). If the other animal may be rabid, and your pet has been vaccinated, we will vaccinate your pet again and send him or her home for confinement. If your pet has not been vaccinated, we will send him or her home for confinement for up to six months and vaccinate your pet. Unvaccinated pets will usually die if they have been bitten by a rabid animal.
 
If you have been bitten by an animal, you should go to the doctor. The doctor's office can treat your wound and may prescribe medication. Tell your doctor what happened and, if you were bitten by a dog, they need to contact Animal Control. You can reach the Douglas County Animal Control at 253-4921. Animal Control will issue a quarantine notice for the dog. The dog can be quarantined for 10 days at a vet clinic or in the owner's home, depending on if the dog has been vaccinated. 
 
Some of the symptoms an animal with Rabies show include a change in attitude, difficulty swallowing, trouble walking, drooling, paralysis and restlessness. Wild animals will often lose their fear of humans and may wander into your yard. Never approach a wild animal that is acting friendly or is hurt. Contact your local Animal Control Department or the Department of Natural Resources at (217) 345-2420 if you see a wild animal that is hurt or acting strangely.
 
You can protect your pet against Rabies. The most important thing you can do is to have your pet vaccinated against Rabies. Encourage your neighbors to have their pets vaccinated too. Always take your pet out on leash, so you can keep an eye on your pet.  

For more information about Rabies, visit the Center for Disease Control's website. For more information about the number of cases of Rabies reported in Illinois, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health's website.

* Graphic courtesy of Illinois Department of Public Health