Vigilance against rabies gets results

Published 7:52 pm Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dr. Boorus Yim, Pamlico Animal Hospital

Dr. Boorus Yim, Pamlico Animal Hospital


In recent news, rabies has caught particular attention among the medical community, and continues to be a daily concern among veterinary and animal societies.

Rabies is a zoonotic viral disease that causes fatal encephalitis in mammals, including humans. This means people can become infected by animals, typically from a bite such as from a dog or cat.

But did you know, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), dog rabies is virtually eliminated in the United States? So why is rabies vaccination such a major concern in the U.S.? The answer is reservoir animals and different types of rabies.

Mammals have the potential to carry rabies. But raccoons, bats, skunks, foxes, and coyotes are of greater concern to carry rabies, to maintain it in the wild population and spread it to our companion animals. Dogs and cats with confirmed rabies may actually be carrying raccoon-type or bat-type rabies. As a result, many programs, research and laws have been created and continue to control and prevent a rabies epidemic. One way we can help is to vaccinate our pets. Not only is it the right thing to do for our pets, it’s the law!

North Carolina general statue (NCGS) 130A-185 states all owned dogs, cats and ferrets older than four months of age must be vaccinated against rabies. The CDC recommends a dog, cat and ferret’s first rabies vaccine be valid for 1 year. Then every following rabies vaccine with documented proof of previous vaccination is valid for 3 years, which has been adopted by North Carolina. Also, according to North Carolina law, rabies vaccine can only be administered by a licensed veterinarian, a registered veterinary technician under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian and a certified rabies vaccinator. And for the price of a family dinner, your pet can be vaccinated against rabies for life. Veterinary clinics, hospitals, and complexes offer rabies vaccinations. Low-cost rabies clinics are also offered in each county at least once a year. Beaufort County’s rabies clinic is on April 20 at locations in Washington, Aurora, Chocowinity and Belhaven.

Thanks to the efforts of rabies laws, nationwide animal vaccination programs and post-exposure rabies vaccines, rabies-related human and animal deaths in the U.S. have dramatically decreased. Please contact your local veterinarian and rescue society for further information of rabies vaccination. We must continue in our vigilance to protect our beloved pets from rabies.

Boorus Yim DVM, MS, BS

Pamlico Animal Hospital

Associate Veterinarian