Spring time brings warm weather and new life. Grass turns green, flowers begin to bloom, calves and lambs appear in the fields. Spring also finds increased activity in wildlife, including those wild animals that carry rabies.
The Center for Disease Control collects information about cases of rabies in humans and animals each year. In the United States there are five to six thousand cases of rabies yearly, with two to three of those cases being humans.
Wild animals account for 92 percent of reported cases of rabies. Bats are the most frequently reported rabid wildlife species, followed by raccoons, skunks and foxes. Domestic species account for 8 percent of rabid animals reported. 60 to 65 rabid dogs and 250 to 270 rabid cats are reported yearly in the US.
The number of human deaths attributed to rabies in the United States has decreased from 100 or more each year to an average of 2 to 3. Multiple factors have contributed to this decline. First, domestic animal control and vaccination programs have been very successful in minimizing the number of rabid dogs and cats. Secondly, oral rabies vaccines distributed to wildlife has decreased the wildlife reservoir of rabies. Thirdly, effective human rabies vaccines have been developed.
Clinical signs in domestic animals include sudden changes in behavior with severe agitation alternating with depression. Dogs will have a characteristic bark which is loud and furious. Cats will often become more affectionate than normal. Paralysis of the masticatory muscles will develop, resulting in the inability to eat or drink and causing excessive drooling. Progressive paralysis will result in death. The time interval between an animal being bitten by a rabid animal and the development of clinical signs can be several weeks.
Spring time is when local vaccination clinics are scheduled. These clinics are an excellent opportunity for pet owners to have their dogs and cats vaccinated for rabies. Contact Five Rivers Mobile Veterinary Services today to schedule your appointment to protect your pets and your family from Rabies.