Is it Possible to Eliminate Rabies From Dog Bites?
The World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization have established a goal in which they hope to eliminate dog transmitted rabies by the end of next year, 2015. While greatly on the decline in the United States of America, there are still cases reported in Latin American countries and the Caribbean which cause concern. Worldwide, there are more than 50,000 humans which are affected by the rabies virus. Rabies also causes the death of millions of animals around the globe.
Once the symptoms of rabies appear, the disease generally is fatal. Rabies, a virus which affects the brain and the spinal cord of mammals is preventable, but is it realistic to expect total elimination? Rabies has been in almost every country in the world, with the exception of Australia and Antarctica. While it’s most often considered to be transmitted by dogs, cats actually lead the list of domestic animals with the disease. Particularly at risk are domesticated animals, or pets, who are exposed to wild animals. Transmission of the disease most often occurs through saliva, or from a bite from an infected animal. Pets who are not vaccinated against the disease should not be allowed outside where they may come into contact with wild animals. In the US, the most common carriers of the disease are bats, skunks, raccoons, and foxes.
Following recommended veterinary advice and the law in most areas will keep rabies at bay. It’s as simple as making sure that your dog is up to date with its vaccinations. In many areas of the United States, it’s required by law that all domestic dogs and cats as well receive vaccinations past the age of three months. Keeping your dog vaccinated is also good for the dog owner. If you own a dog who is involved in a dog bite attack, the dog may be required to be quarantined for at least 10 days. During the quarantine period, if rabies develops, your dog may be euthanased. Something as simple as keeping your pets’ vaccinations up to date can help as a control in the fight against rabies.
The easiest way to prevent a rabies attack is by simple avoidance of contact with wild animals. You can decrease the chances of rabies transmission by making sure your dog is under your control while walking by using a leash. Contain him in a safe area, or supervise him while he is out of doors. If your dog has been bitten and is up to date with his vaccinations he should immediately be given a rabies booster. Keep your pet under observation for 45 days.
While worldwide elimination may not be realistic soon, we have the chance in the United States to meet or exceed the goal of the The World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization: elimination of dog transmitted rabies by the end of 2015.