Importance of Rabies Vaccination in Georgia
Rabies vaccination is very important for your pet if you are living in the state of Georgia.
Importance of Rabies Vaccination in Georgia
Rabies vaccination is very important for your pet if you are living in the state of Georgia, as Georgia rank amongst the Top states for rabies cases in the US. The most common culprits causing rabies infection in Georgia are raccoon, foxes, and bats.
This year there has been a spike in Rabies Cases in Georgia. Recently this summer, North Georgia Health District officials stated that 12 people in northwest Georgia are under post-exposure rabies treatment because of their contact with domestic animals that tested positive for Rabies.
North Georgia Health District strongly cautioned parents to keep their children away from wild animals, strays, and unvaccinated pets especially the ones that may have been in contact with wild animals.
They also recommended all to abide by the Georgia rabies vaccination law that requires rabies vaccination of all owned dogs and cats against rabies by a licensed veterinarian using approved vaccines in accordance with the National Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control.
As there is no cure for rabies once the infection takes a hold, for you and your loved one’s safety, we like to share our knowledge about rabies, its symptom, precaution, and treatment.
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a zoonotic disease (a disease that is transferred from animals to humans), triggered by the rabies virus (Genus: Lyssavirus and Family: Rhabdoviridae). Rabies is commonly found in wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. The rabies virus travels from the site of the bite up towards the brain through the nerves, causing encephalopathy (brain damage) and finally death. So do not try to pet raccoons like the person in the image below.
The rabies virus is transmitted through the infected animal’s saliva when it bites another animal. Rabies is also transmitted when an infectious material such as saliva from a rabies-infected animal is exposed to mucous membranes or through an open or a fresh wound.
What are Rabies Symptoms?
The rabies virus is relatively slow moving and usually takes two to eight weeks from exposure to brain involvement (2 to 6 weeks in cats, 3 to 8 weeks in dogs and 3 to 6 weeks in humans). The transmission of rabies virus via saliva can occur as early as 10 days before the appearance of rabies symptoms.
The following are some of the rabies symptoms to watch for:
- Jaw is dropped
- Excessive excitability
- Inability to swallow
- Unusual shyness or aggression
- Constant irritability/changes in attitude and behavior
- Paralysis in the mandible and larynx
- Excessive salivation (hyper salivation), or frothy saliva
- Lack of Muscular coordination
- Change in tone of pet voice
- Constant licking the site of the bite
Different Stages of Rabies
The different stages of rabies virus are given below:
1. Prodromal stage:
Prodromal stage is the initial stage and typically persists for 2-3 days in dogs. Behavior change is the main rabies symptoms during this stage. It includes anxiety, nervousness, solitude, and fever. Aggressive pets can become quiet and loving, while friendly pets can become shy or short-tempered and may snap. Because of the abnormal sensation (itching, burning, numbness, or paresthesia) around the bite site, the majority of animals constantly lick the site of the bite. In cats, the Prodromal phase lasts for only 1-2 days and generally results in fever spikes and unpredictable behavior as compared to dogs.
2. Furious stage:
Infected animals may enter the furious stage after prodromal phase. Cats are susceptible to this phase. The furious phase of the disease in dogs normally lasts for 1 to 7 days. In this stage, pets are hyperactive to audio and visual stimuli. If caged, the infected animals can bite and attack its enclosure or its contents. During this phase, the pets normally become restless, irritable, vicious, and they start excessive roaming.
3. Paralytic or the “dumb” stage:
The paralytic stage is the last stage that develops either directly after a prodromal stage or after going through the furious stage. The paralysis caused when the virus attacks motor neurons. The paralytic stage normally occurs within 2 to 4 days after the first rabies symptoms are noted. As the head and throat nerves are affected in this stage, the animal begins to salivate due to their inability to swallow anything. Because of paralysis of the facial and diaphragm muscles the rabies-infected, the animal may experience deep labored breath and a dropped jaw. The Infected animal may also start making a choking sound as if something stuck in their throat. Later the pet gets weaker losing muscular control and dies.
As different stages of rabies exhibit different behaviors, it is not easy to spot rabies infected animals. The infected animal may be aggressive and vicious, or timid and shy, or abnormally tame. In the early stage of rabies, an infected animal may not show any signs, but can still infect you if they bite you. Therefore, prevention is better than cure.
- The first and foremost thing to prevent rabies is to keep your pet up to date with rabies vaccination through a licensed veterinarian using approved vaccines in accordance with the National Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control (This is a must as per Georgia rabies vaccination law).
- Enjoy wildlife from a distance. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, and especially bats are the main culprits behind the main cause of rabies in humans or their pets in the United States.
- If you see a wild animal acting strange report it immediately to your local animal control agency.
- Keeping your pets under supervision when outdoors and avoiding any contact with wild animals is also essential to prevent rabies.
- If a wild animal bites your pet, seek veterinary assistance immediately, even if your pet has undergone vaccination against rabies.
- Do not approach a stray animal—report it to your local animal control agency. The most common reason people get post-exposure vaccines is that the biting animal is not available for testing.
- Avoid getting close to any dead bodies of animals in the wild especially those we have previously mentioned. Never ever allow your pets to approach one as showed in the image below.
- Keep lids on garbage cans and do not leave pet food outside overnight.
- Talk to a health care provider, travel clinic, or health department about the risk of exposure to rabies before traveling abroad. A pre-exposure vaccine may be suggested when traveling to some areas.
- If you suspect and are preparing to take your pet to an animal hospital for rabies treatment, do not touch your pet with bare hands, as the rabies virus may remain alive on your pet for up to 2 hours.
What to do in case a potentially rabid animal bites someone?
Follow the Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines.
Call your doctor as soon as possible for advice and provide your doctor with the following information:
- Type of animal involved (pet or wild animal)
- Provoked (teased, startled, run the past, etc.) or unprovoked attack
- Type of exposure (cut, scratch, licking of an open wound), part of the body, number of exposures
- Animal’s rabies vaccination status (does not apply to wild animals)
- Sick or well animal, type of rabies symptoms
- Animal available/not available for testing or quarantine
Your doctor can check with the Georgia Poison Center (404-616-9000 in Atlanta, or 800-282-5846 statewide) to decide whether post exposure human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) and vaccine are recommended for this bite. Your doctor can also tell you if you need a tetanus booster or antibiotics.
In some cases, a domestic animal may be quarantined to observe if it develops rabies symptoms. Cats, dogs, and ferrets will become ill and expire within days of shedding the rabies virus in their saliva.
What is the treatment for rabies?
Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment for rabies once the symptoms of the illness have developed. It is always lethal, especially for an unvaccinated animal. The affected animal dies within 7 to 10 days from the day the rabies symptoms appear. Since rabies presents a serious public health threat, pets suspected of having the rabies are often euthanized.
Rabies can be prevented in humans if medical care is sought soon after an exposure to the rabies virus. The cost of treatment for people is above $3000 for each series of post exposure shots and increases depending on the situation. If left untreated, rabies is always deadly.
The Wise Old Sayings “Prevention is better than Cure” is the best way to prevent Rabies. Though fatal, rabies can be prevented by keeping few things in mind. Keep your pet up to date with rabies vaccination through a licensed veterinarian. Ensure not to be too friendly with wild or stray animals. Report any strange behaving animal (exhibiting rabies symptoms) to your local animal control agency instead of trying to be a savior. Avoid touching a suspected rabid animal, even if it is your beloved pet. Stay Safe and Stay Happy!!
Contact Us for rabies vaccination in Atlanta Area!!
Call @ 404 867-4081