September 28 is World Rabies Day, offering a global reminder for animal owners to protect pets, livestock, and humans from this dreaded disease.
World Rabies Day is presented by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, a non-profit organization, based in Scotland and the United States and lauded by the world’s leading health and veterinary organizations. The health holiday occurs each year on September 28, marking the birthday of Louis Pasteur, primary developer of the first rabies vaccine.
The 2013 World Rabies Day theme is “Rabies: Understand it to defeat it.”
Legally, dogs and most other pets must receive regular rabies vaccinations.
Local laws vary. Some communities require annual rabies shots for dogs, for example, while others accept three-year immunizations. Cats may also be vaccinated for rabies.
Wild or stray dogs or cats around the barn may pose particular concern, if they have not been vaccinated.
Should horses be vaccinated against rabies?
Opinions differ, but many veterinaries do recommend rabies shots for horses. Horses may usually receive rabies vaccinations at three months of age or older. Yearly boosters are offered.
Usually, rabies is found among wild animals, such as bats, deer, foxes, raccoons, and skunks. But horses may encounter such creatures, especially if they are pastured near wilderness areas, so rabies is always a possibility.
Most worrisome, rabies is currently untreatable in equines. Once infected, rabies can quickly become fatal.
Can humans catch rabies from animals?
Rabies, a rhabdovirus, is a zoonotic disease. That means it can transfer from one species to another. Generally, rabies is spread through saliva, as from a bite wound. A few cases have even been reported of humans contracting rabies through organ donation from rabies-infected individuals.
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