Rabies shots can prevent the spread of disease to humans

Dog owners and many other people have probably heard about the importance of giving dogs rabies shots on a 1-year or 3-year schedule, depending on the shot that is given. The reports of rabid raccoons attacking dogs about 2 hours and a little more than 3 hours from Miami is a stark reminder that rabies shots are incredibly important for dogs.

The issue comes if a rabid raccoon attacks a dog who hasn’t had a rabies shot. If that dog who hasn’t had a rabies shot and is attacked by a rabid raccoon attacks a human, there is a chance that the human could get rabies.

Even cats aren’t immune to rabies. On June 2, a cat tested positive for rabies in St. Lucie County. That should put all pet owners and those who live near wildlife on alert for animals that show signs of this horrible disease.

Another issue that comes up is that raccoons aren’t the only animal that can transmit rabies. In Lakeland, which is about 3 hours and 40 minutes from Miami, a rabid fox was found. That fox attacked a woman, but she didn’t test positive for rabies, which shows that not all attacks by rabid animals mean a devastating diagnosis for a human.

Anyone who is attacked by another person’s pet should try to determine if the pet has been vaccinated for rabies. Even if a pet has been vaccinated, pet owners should still contact a veterinarian if their pet is bitten. Keeping a watchful eye on pets who have been exposed to rabies or who have bitten a human is vital because signs of rabies in the animal might point to a need for more medical testing and care for the victim of the animal attack.

Source: WPBF, “Rabies alert issued after raccoon attacks 2 dogs,” June 24, 2015