Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rabies. Why You Should Worry About It.

While I was at the TNR today I was over hearing one of the Animal Control Officers from Harford County talk about one of the most recent rabies outbreaks. There was a connection between the family who owned the farm where the rabies outbreak occurred and one of our Veterinarians. It seems one of my Vets knows and lives very close to the family where the outbreak occurred. (Talk about hitting close to home, it really did for her). Even if the family isn't a neighbor of mine, they live about 10 miles from our clinic, and about 7 miles from my house. So hit close to home for all of us.

The story goes like this;

One day during the early summer the father was outside working around the house when one of their "barn cats" (barn cats around here means you are not an inside "attended to" kitty, but rather, you are a "you are on your own to fend for yourself" kind of kitty). These kitties are usually allowed to sleep under the roof of a building that you own, but they are not named, petted, or given medical care. The Animal Control Officer told us that the father was attacked by one of his barn cats. The attack was reported as being unprovoked and the left injuries to his leg that were severe enough to require immediate medical care. She was called out to their farm because when you go to the emergency room or hospital and report that your wounds are the result of a bite, the local authorities are called in to investigate.

When the Animal Control Officers arrived it was discovered that this particular cat had never been vaccinated for Rabies. Because the cat had "neurologic signs," hadn't been vaccinated, and it had bitten someone, it was decided the cat should be euthanized. The cat was then sent to the State Lab for its brain tissue to be examined for evidence of rabies infection. Three days later the lab called to report that the cat was in fact positive for rabies. This piece of news set two things in motion; First, the father went to the health department and his physician to start post-exposure rabies treatment. Second, the Animal Control Officers came back to his farm to investigate how many other animals were potentially exposed.

The Animal Control Officers learned that none of their pets were up to date and/or vaccinated for rabies. To insure the safety of the entire family the Harford County Animal Control Officers trapped and euthanized all of their pets. It final tally was over 40 cats. Some were even "indoor only" cats.

To this day the family can't bear the idea of getting another pet.

But thankfully everyone is doing fine.

I tell this story many times a day when I have an owner who wants to decline vaccinating for rabies. I always reply; "First, You, and I  are required by law to vaccinate your pet. It is not an elective procedure. Second, rabies will kill you, why would you want to risk that? And third, it is cheap! $5.00 at the fire hall, or $12.00 at JVC. To cheap to risk this story happening to you."

To read about other rabies cases in Harford county, MD. see the link

You can also read more about my personal rabies scare at my earlier blog. Learning My Lesson The Hard Way.

And the annual rabies report from JAVMA in the Sept 15, 2011 edition.

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