Animal welfare groups use World Rabies Day on September 28 to raise awareness of rabies. Many people don’t really know how serious rabies can be. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says over 58,000 people die every due to rabies. The sad reality is rabies is 100% preventable. The CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO), World Organization for Animal Health (formerly OIE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are working together to eliminate canine transmitted rabies by 2030.
Rabie’s is a viral disease transmitted by an infected animal. Most often the transfer to humans occurs through an infected bite or scratch. Diagnosing rabies can be difficult as it may not manifest until months after a person has been infected. Mild cases may result in discomfort and swelling at the bite area, along with headaches and fever. More serious cases can lead to hallucinations, intense paranoia, paralysis, encephalitis, and brain damage.
There are many simple things responsible dog owners should do greatly reduce the chances of their dog infecting someone with rabies. These include:
- Making sure their dog’s rabies vaccination is up to date
- Keeping their dog on a leash while in public
- Making sure their dogs are safe from wild animals (bats, coyotes, racoons, etc.) that carry rabies
- Reporting stray animals to local animal control
- Never approaching wild animals
If you are a non-dog owner you could find yourself in a situation where you’ll be around dogs and other animals frequently. Here are some actions you may consider;
- Getting vaccinated for rabies if you plan on working with or having close contact with many dogs or wild animals
- Get vaccinated if you’re going to a country where “street dogs” are common
- Thoroughly wash animal bites and scratches as soon as possible
- Contacting your health provider as soon as possible if you’ve been bitten or heavily scratched by an animal
- Never approach wild animals
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