World Rabies Day
September 28th is known as World Rabies Day. Awareness is essential in understanding the severe consequences of this deadly disease. Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that attacks an animal’s brain and spinal cord. All mammals can be infected with rabies. Birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians cannot get rabies. Rabies is transmitted when an infected animal bites another animal or person. The disease is zoonotic, which means it can spread from animals to people. Worldwide, dogs are the most likely mammal to infect humans. It is estimated that more than 55,000 people die from rabies every year, mainly in Asia and Africa.
In the state of Ohio there has not been a human case of rabies since 1970. In 2010, 47 animals in Ohio tested positive for rabies. 752 bats were tested with 41 of them being rabid. 54 people were bitten or otherwise potentially exposed to these bats and 50 of those individuals started rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. 9 people were exposed when a rabid bat was found in a home in Delaware County. 15 of the rabid bats exposed 18 dogs. 16 of the dogs were quarantined, one was euthanized, and 1 outcome is unknown. 16 cats were exposed and of those 10 were quarantined, 4 were euthanized and 2 outcomes are unknown. 26 counties in Ohio reported at least one rabid bat in 2010. Bats have been responsible for the majority of human fatalities due to rabies in the U.S. Between 1995 and 2010, 31 of 42 human fatalities from rabies in the U.S. were from bat-related rabies variants.
It is important as pet owners to protect your animals. All dogs, cats and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies. Keeping your pets from roaming free will help reduce the possibility of being exposed to rabies. Wild animals should never be kept as pets. Observe all wild animals from a distance. Report any wild animal acting strangely to the city or county animal control department. Bat-proof your home and structures to prevent bats from nesting.
Auglaize County Board of Health adopted the regulation that any person who owns, keeps, or harbors a dog, cat, or ferret in Auglaize County shave have that animal currently immunized against rabies. Vaccination shall be administered by or under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Ohio does not have a state wide policy. Each county is responsible for regulating rabies vaccinations.
If your pet happens to bite an individual, that dog, cat or ferret shall be quarantined under an order issued by the health commissioner of the health district in which the bite was inflicted. The pet is to be quarantined for a period of 10 days or another period that the board of health for the district in which the bite occurred determines is necessary to observe the dog for rabies. If the pet becomes sick and dies during this period, the health department must be notified immediately so as to take all the precautions against rabies by sending in the deceased pet’s head to the Ohio Department of Health Laboratory for examination. If your pet is not current on its rabies vaccination, it cannot be released from quarantine until it becomes current on its rabies vaccination.
Thanks to Louis Pasteur and Emile Roux a vaccine was developed to protect our pets against rabies. Remember to keep your pets’ rabies vaccination updated.