Local health officials urge pet owners to prevent rabies

TOPEKA (KSNT)- On Monday Shawnee County Health officials issued a reminder for all pet owners, get your animal vaccinated for rabies.

The push was all part of September, 28th being World Rabies Day. It began in 2007, as a co-effort between the CDC and the Alliance for Rabies Control. The mission is to increase awareness about rabies and steps that increase rabies prevention.

Rabies is typically transmitted by raccoon’s, bats, skunks and foxes. Vaccinating household pets such as dogs and cats can help prevent the transmission of rabies, should a pet come in contact with a wild animal infected with the virus.

If they’re not and a bite occurs and vaccination cannot be confirmed, the animal may be ordered into quarantine for six months to ensure they are not infected with rabies.

Last year the Shawnee County Health Agency investigated 285 dog bites, however not all of those turned out to be positive for rabies.

The big takeaway local health officials want pet owners to be aware of is the role these wild animals play in transmitting the virus, “Two weeks ago we had a skunk bite, where the skunk got in the enclosure with the two dogs and wound up wounding both of them,” Ed Kalas, Environmental and Community Health Division Manager at Shawnee County Health Agency said. “And they would have had to be quarantined for up to six months because they weren’t up to day,  but the owner decided to euthanize them instead.” In this particular case, Kalas said the skunk did test positive for rabies.

The most common signs of rabies in dogs and cats include fearfulness, unusual aggression, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering, and unusual seizures. Once an animal shows clinical signs of rabies it is fatal.
To reduce the risk of exposure to rabies from wild animals and unvaccinated animals do not allow your animals to roam free. Never try to approach wild animals, even if they seem friendly.

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