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Posted on 11-14-2013

Rabies vaccines protect both you and your pet from rabies, a deadly viral disease that is contagious to humans and most animals. The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed 327 cases of rabies in 2013 alone, several of which could have been prevented through the use of vaccines.

The Threat of Rabies Is Real

While few people die in the U.S. from rabies each year, about 39,000 are exposed to the virus annually and must receive preventative care. Only six people have ever survived an infection that had become fully symptomatic. If a pet brought into our Austin veterinarian clinic for emergency treatment tests positive for this disease the outcome is almost always fatal since there is no cure for rabies.

This viral disease, which is spread through the saliva of infected animals, remains a threat to pets and other domestic creatures because it is difficult to identify in wild animals before they actually bite another animal or shows physical symptoms. Bats and skunks are primary carriers. Of the 327 cases confirmed in Texas in 2013, 217 were bats and 85 were skunks; authorities also identified nine rabid raccoons and three foxes.

The rest of these rabid animals were domestic. Seven were cats; cats are the least vaccinated pets and therefore the most likely to become infected. Authorities also confirmed three rabid cows, a horse, a goat and a dog.

These domestic rabies infections could have been prevented by vaccinations. In fact, Texas state law requires that all domestic animals be vaccinated against this deadly and untreatable contagious disease. If a pet bites a human or another pet the owner may be required to provide documentation proving that their pet was properly vaccinated.  

All rabid animals pose a potential threat to humans, but rabid domestic animals present a particular threat, because humans are so often in close contact with them. You do not need to be bitten to contract rabies; if the saliva contacts an open wound or mucous membrane, you could become exposed to the disease.

If your pet is not vaccinated for rabies we suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care veterinarian right away, and if you ever have an after hours pet emergency please contact us at Emergency Animal Hospital of Northwest Austin immediately.

Are your pets vaccinated against rabies?

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