Rabies outbreak raises questions
Dr. David Brooks made a very strong statement on behalf of the veterinarians in Robeson County when he reported that they would like to hold clinics at each fire department in order to increase the number of animals vaccinated against rabies in the county.
With about 20 percent compliance with state law in Robeson County, we have a long way to go. Some counties tie rabies vaccinations into the animal licensing program. If we had such a rule here, the compliance results would be the same for both programs. Our population is such that when a rabies case is reported, rather than increasing vaccination rates, it results in an increase in requests to pick up surrendered animals.
There are a few questions that come up constantly. For example, my animal has been vaccinated in the past, it just is not currently, could not a titer be done to determine whether it’s protected? Yes, a titer could reveal protection levels, but that is not what the state statute uses as a yardstick — the animal is either current or not in its vaccination. If not, it is to be euthanized immediately unless the health director allows a six-month quarantine in a veterinary hospital.
While a dog that has been involved in a bite is quarantined for 10 days, a dog bitten by a rabid animal is quarantined for six months. What is the difference? The 10-day observation period is to determine if the animal had the virus in its saliva at the time of the bite. By the end of this period, symptoms should be exhibited that the animal did indeed have the ability to transmit rabies. However, after coming in contact with a rabid animal, it may take up to six months of incubation for the virus to take hold, thus contact must be prevented.
My dog/cat is a house animal and it never goes out, so why does it need to be vaccinated? As Fievel said in “An American Tail,” “Never say never.” It only takes an unusual event such as the animal following you outside on a trash run and encountering a bat or a scavenging raccoon to have a major problem. In times when we do not have cases of rabies, we might assume it was not rabid. Currently, we are presuming that it was rabid and euthanasia or six months of quarantine is the result.
Because of the six-month incubation window, wild animals that were bitten by already-identified rabid animals will still be roaming the woods and streets waiting to manifest symptoms. I recall one owner saying, in essence, “But my dog did not do anything wrong and you are euthanizing him.” He was correct, the dog did as dogs do: He protected the owner. Unfortunately, the dog thought they were in a partnership and that the owner would look after him, which did not happen.
Do your part — vaccinate.
Commentscomments powered by Disqus
Local Gas Prices