Rabies 101: Just In Time for Rabies Awareness Month

What is rabies?

Rabies is a fatal virus that affects the nervous system of mammals both domestic and wild.

How is rabies transmitted?

Rabies is transmitted through body fluids such as saliva, blood, or semen. Most often, it is transmitted through a bite or a scratch.

What animals can contract the rabies virus?

Any warm-blooded mammal can contract the rabies virus, but it is generally carried and transmitted by wild animals, most commonly raccoons, squirrels, skunks, and bats. These animals bite other animals such as dogs, cats, and humans and spread the virus through the saliva in a bite wound.

How would you know if your dog, cat, horse, or other pet had rabies?

Symptoms of the rabies virus generally involve central nervous system malfunctions; stumbling around; foaming at the mouth or salivating heavily; sudden aggression or behavior changes; confusion; loss of consciousness; and rigid muscles or stiff bodies.

How do you vaccinate your pet for rabies?

Along with a physical exam, the rabies vaccine is given at 16-weeks of age for puppies and kittens, and the vaccine is boostered at their 1-year adult visit. In most cases, that vaccine is good for three years.

Knowing the basic information about the rabies virus should give you as a pet owner enough insight into the importance of keeping your pets up to date on routine rabies vaccines. This virus is responsible for 24,000 – 40,000 deaths worldwide per year.

It is a Wisconsin state law that any domestic animal that is a pet, working animal, or livestock be vaccinated at least annually. Should your dog or cat bite or scratch someone while they are not current on this very affordable vaccine, you could be fined and your pet must go through a 10-day quarantine at an approved veterinary facility to monitor for symptoms of rabies. This quarantine can cost upwards of $1,000 to $1,500 depending on the area where you reside, not to mention the medical bills that could accumulate if the injury was extensive enough for an infection to occur (common in cat bites).

For the safety of you, your family and your pets, please keep your animals current on a rabies vaccine. Should you have questions about the rabies virus or vaccine protocol, our educated staff is happy to guide you in the right direction!