This week (the last full week in September) marks Rabies Awareness Week, sponsored by the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). Each September, the VVMA and VDH educates our state about rabies (which occurs when a virus attacks the nervous system), promotes guidelines to prevent pets’ exposure to the disease, and encourages veterinarians to offer the same messaging to their patients.

Although rabies is most commonly found in Virginia’s wildlife, any mammal—including humans—can get rabies. In Virginia, approximately 10 percent of animals diagnosed with rabies annually are domestic animals such a dogs and cats. The disease, while deadly, is also preventable when pet owners keep all pet dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock vaccinated. Pet owners can limit the possibility of exposure to rabies by keeping animals on their property, avoiding exposure to wild animals, and keeping pet food stored indoors to avoid attracting wild animals on their land.

“Educating families on rabies is a great starting point in spreading awareness of this deadly, yet preventable, disease,” said Dr. Murphy, State Public Health Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Health. “Rabies can be avoided, but families must know how to take action beforehand. Vaccinating your pet brings you once step closer to protecting you and your family, so be sure to keep your pet up-to-date on all vaccinations and schedule frequent visits with your veterinarian. If you suspect your pet has exposure to rabies, please contact your local health department or animal control agency for guidance right away.”

For more tips on keeping family members, furry and human alike, safe from the rabies disease and for more information on rabies control, visit the following links:

www.vdh.virginia.gov/Epidemiology/DEE/Rabies/

www.avma.org/Events/pethealth/Pages/world-rabies-day.aspx

www.americanhumane.org/animals/adoption-pet-care/safety/rabies-facts-prevention.html

www.cdc.gov/rabies/index.html

Get more info from the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association at www.vvma.org, twitter.com/VirginiaVMA and facebook.com/virginiavma.