IS RABIES REALLY A THREAT TO MY PET?

Yes, rabies is a threat to your pet and to you. If your dog or cat is not vaccinated against rabies, both you and your pet are at risk. The virus is particularly present in the saliva and brain of infected animals. It is transmitted via the saliva of an infected animal, most often a dog. The incubation period varies from several days to several months. Once symptoms are present, the disease is fatal for both animals and humans.

HOW CAN MY DOG/CAT GET RABIES?

The main source of rabies is bites from infected wildlife, such as jackals, monkeys, mongooses, and bats. More than 95% of human cases of rabies are due to bites from infected dogs. Controlling and eradicating rabies therefore means combatting it at its animal source (in this case dogs). Less commonly, rabies can be contracted through nasal or ocular tissue. For example, the feces of bats with rabies can become aerosolized, posing a threat to pets or humans who breathe it in while in caves.

WHAT DOES THE KSPCA DO TO HELP IN ELIMINATING RABIES?

Public awareness and education campaigns (for the general public, for dog owners and children

Stray animal population control programmes, and vaccination programmes where feasible.

Surveillance and reporting of suspected cases of rabies in susceptible animals.

Influence policy formulation and implementation.

IF MY PET IS BITTEN BY ANOTHER ANIMAL, WILL HE GET RABIES?

If your pet is not properly vaccinated, a bite from another animal does not necessarily mean he will get rabies. Only if the biting animal is infected with rabies will your pet be at serious risk for getting the disease. Not all animals that bite have rabies. If your dog or cat does contract the rabies virus upon being bitten, it will generally take less than ten to fourteen days before your pet begins to exhibit abnormal behavior. Wild animals that contract the disease may take up to six months to show physical signs of the disease. Once an animal contracts rabies, the disease begins an irreversible process affecting the brain and nervous system, and the pet will die in a matter of days.

It is highly unlikely that pets that have been vaccinated properly will contract the disease. Vaccination is therefore the best prevention. Even if your pet is an indoor pet that never goes outside, he may still be bitten by a wild animal or bat that accidentally enters your house. Indoor pets also sometimes get loose and roam outdoors, putting them at risk. Remember that most county and national governments strongly advise the vaccination of dogs and cats against rabies.

HOW CAN I RECOGNIZE A RABID ANIMAL?

An unexplained change in behavior is the most common sign of rabies. A friendly pet may turn aggressive or act strangely, with no explicable cause. A wild animal, normally shy, may not be afraid when approached by people. Because this disease affects the brain and nerves, the infected animal may act in many different ways. For example, an animal may appear to have an unidentified neurologic disease that results in paralysis and death.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUSPECT AN ANIMAL HAS RABIES?

If you think an animal may have rabies, be extremely careful to avoid all contact. Consider whether the animal has been vaccinated properly, if it has been in contact with wildlife, and if you live in a high risk area. If you suspect your pet may have rabies, isolate him from other animals and humans until you receive further instructions from your veterinarian. If you suspect a wild animal near your home or workplace has rabies, do not go near the animal or allow others to come in contact with it. You must report your suspicion of this disease in order to protect the public (both animals and human beings). Notify your veterinarian and the local animal control department immediately. If you live in Kenya contact the KSPCA or call the county director of veterinary services.

WHAT HAPPENS TO AN ANIMAL THAT BITES ANOTHER ANIMAL OR HUMAN?

Wild Animals

If an unvaccinated wild animal, such as a monkey or a bat bites a human, the animal should be captured or the body saved if at all possible so that it can be examined. The public health department will likely euthanize the animal and examine its brain tissue for signs of rabies. If an unvaccinated wild animal bites your pet, do not risk getting bitten yourself by trying to kill or capture the wild animal.

Dogs & Cats

If a vaccinated dog or cat bites a human, the authorities should quarantine the animal and monitor it for two weeks to ensure that there is no threat of rabies. If an unvaccinated dog or cat bites a human, it can be quarantined or euthanized depending on the circumstances (which the veterinarian should advise).

Human

Once a person is bit by animal one should contact and see a medical doctor for treatment and advice.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO HELP CONTROL RABIES?

Public awareness and education campaigns (for the general public, dog owners, and children);

Surveillance and reporting of suspected cases of rabies in susceptible animals;

Research into disease dynamics, suitable vaccines and vaccine delivery mechanisms for target populations;

Vaccination programmes for domestic animals, especially dogs, currently by injectable route;

Vaccination programmes for wild animals (usually by distributing vaccine baits in the natural environment); and

Stray animal population control programmes, and vaccination programmes where feasible.

Rabies control programmes are a major challenge.

1 reply
  1. Dr. Peter B. Gathura
    Dr. Peter B. Gathura says:

    The efforts of the KSPCA in creating awareness is commendable. Rabies is preventable disease and nobody should die of the disease. Promotion of responsible dog ownership is important. Keep up the good work!

    Reply

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