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Rabies: The Impact Worldwide and In Your Backyard

2020-08-13

Rabies may seem like a relic of the past, but this virus still wreaks havoc on animals and people around the globe. Despite scientific and medical advances, nearly 60,000 people worldwide die from rabies every year. As World Rabies Day approaches on September 28th, we want to remind everyone that rabies is 100% preventable, yet 99% fatal for those that contract it and do not receive prompt treatment. 

We hope you will join the effort to end rabies for this year’s World Rabies Day. Is your pet due for a rabies booster or ready for their initial vaccination? Vaccinating 70% of dogs in at-risk areas can eliminate dog rabies. Together we can end human deaths from dog-transmitted rabies by 2030. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of ending this deadly disease.

How Does a Rabies Vaccine Protect Your Pet, You, and Others?

You may know him from his work with milk: Louis Pasteur is responsible for our understanding of how viruses work and how to prevent fatal illnesses. Thanks to Pasteur’s bravery and commitment to health, we now have a vaccine that can prevent rabies from taking your pet’s life.

A rabies vaccine works like the flu or chickenpox vaccines. A small amount of the virus is introduced into your pet’s system to naturally develop its resistance to the infection caused by the germ. After fighting off the invader, your pet’s body “remembers” how to fight the disease, protecting them from severe illness should they be exposed by a bite. This is what’s referred to as immunity. 

As time passes, the immunity can wear off as cells “forget” how to fight a particular infection. Renewing your pet’s rabies vaccination through boosters builds resistance to the virus and protects them for life.

How common is rabies in animals?

All mammals can contract rabies, including your dog, cat, rabbit, or the human members of your family. While rabies is considered rare among pets and people, it still thrives among wild animals, with almost 93% of reported rabies cases being diagnosed in wildlife like bats, raccoons, and skunks. In fact, bats with rabies were found in every U.S. state in a study done between 2013 and 2017. 

Aside from wildlife, cases are increasing in the domestic cat population in the United States. Even though rabies is rarely diagnosed in humans in the U.S., it is a zoonotic disease, which means that it can be passed from animals to people. 

How does rabies spread?

The rabies virus is transferred through saliva. Most animals contract the virus by getting bitten by an infected animal. Once the virus enters the body, it travels through the nervous system, ultimately ending up in the spinal cord and then the brain. Once the rabies virus reaches the spinal cord, it is nearly impossible to treat.

What are the symptoms of rabies?

Initial signs of a rabies infection include a fever with pain and unusual or unexplained tingling, pricking, or burning sensation at the wound site.

Rabies makes it hard to breathe and causes extreme thirst. Despite making victims thirsty, swallowing is made difficult, causing dehydration. Many that contract rabies also experience hydrophobia, or a fear of water, despite their thirst. 

Because the virus affects the nervous system, the infection can cause its victim to become aggressive and experience hallucinations, anxiety, and confusion. Known as furious rabies, this form of the disease often leads to an infected animal biting another and spreading the virus.

The other, less common type of rabies is known as paralytic rabies. In this form of the disease, causing muscle weakness and paralysis, animals may appear tame and have no fear of humans.

Collaborate to Vaccinate

Thanks to Louis Pasteur, preventing rabies is as easy as scheduling an appointment at our clinic. On September 28th, the anniversary of Pasteur’s death, we celebrate the unification of thousands of people around the world towards a common goal – ending rabies for the global public good. 


While we cannot vaccinate all wild creatures, we can protect your family. Take the time to check to see if your pet is due for their booster. Don’t risk your pet becoming a victim of this painful and deadly disease. Be a part of the fight against rabies and honor World Rabies Day by making an appointment today.

Photo Credit: Pexels.

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