Sadly, another case of rabies has been confirmed in Randolph County. This makes two confirmed cases in dogs that were kept as family pets. The rabies vaccination is required by the State of Alabama as a source of protection for you, your pet and your community. An encounter with a wild animal carrying rabies can be the reason your unvaccinated animal catches rabies, so the importance of your pet having the vaccine is crucial. If you were to get bitten or scratched by an animal that is rabid, it could cost you anywhere from $40,000 plus for treatment, not to mention the physical pain you would endure during treatment. Rabies is a deadly disease; without treatment, your future will be grim.
To help you and your pet:
- Get your pets rabies vaccines.
- Don’t let your pets run loose.
- Don’t dump your unwanted pets.
- Don’t touch wild animals.
Racoons and bats carry the rabies virus most in Alabama according to the Dr. Dee Jones, State Public Health Veterinarian, Alabama Department of Public Health. There might not be any signs of sickness when you first see an animal that has the disease. Per the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, rabies virus causes an acute encephalitis in all warm-blooded hosts, and the outcome is almost always fatal. The first symptoms of rabies may be nonspecific and include lethargy, fever, vomiting and anorexia. Signs progress within days to cerebral dysfunction, cranial nerve dysfunction, ataxia, weakness, paralysis, seizures, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, abnormal behavior, aggression and/or self-mutilation.
Per the CDC, rabies virus is transmitted through direct contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth) with saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal.
People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal. It is also possible, but rare, for people to get rabies from non-bite exposures, which can include scratches, abrasions or open wounds that are exposed to saliva or other potentially infectious material from a rabid animal. Other types of contact, such as petting a rabid animal or contact with the blood, urine or feces of a rabid animal, are not associated with risk for infection and are not considered to be exposures of concern for rabies.
We hope you see how the rabies vaccine keeps everyone safe and the importance for your pets to be vaccinated. If you have any questions, you may contact our county’s rabies officer, Dr. Paul McMurray, or your veterinarian.