World Rabies Day Highlights Importance of Education in Preventing Rabies

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In light of World Rabies Day’s theme this year, Rabies: Share the message. Save a life, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) is highlighting the importance of education and awareness in preventing rabies transmission.

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Rabies is an especially important topic in Texas because the reservoir animals of the region, such as bats and skunks, act as a gateway between wild species and domestic pets.

In light of World Rabies Day’s theme this year, Rabies: Share the message. Save a life, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) is highlighting the importance of education and awareness in preventing rabies transmission. Educating yourself and those in your community about rabies infection, its effects and its prevention is the first—and perhaps easiest—line of defense. People also can reduce the occurrence of rabies by properly vaccinating pets for rabies and by avoiding wildlife.

Rabies is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be spread from animals to humans. Transmission occurs when saliva containing rabies virus is introduced into an opening in the skin, usually via the bite or scratch of an infected animal. Typically, untreated rabies results in death for humans within days of the initial symptoms.

Rabies is an especially important topic in Texas because the reservoir animals of the region, such as bats and skunks, act as a gateway between wild species and domestic pets. Additional high-risk animals in Texas include foxes, raccoons and coyotes.

“These common vector animals in Texas, like raccoons, skunks and bats, are nocturnal animals,” said Valarie Tynes, DVM, DACVB, with Ceva Animal Health in Sweetwater, Texas. “Especially anytime they are seen out and about during the day, they should be completely avoided, because this is abnormal behavior. Children should be taught this and to report the animal to an adult.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests the following tips for avoiding rabies:

  • Take your pets to a veterinarian to keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date.
  • Teach children not to approach wildlife or animals they do not know even if they seem friendly.
  • Do not leave food (for pets or humans) outside that may entice wild animals into your yard.
  • Keep outside garbage securely covered as it can attract wild animals to your yard.
  • Don’t take in a sick or wounded wild animal. Instead call Animal Control Services or an animal rescue group.

For more information on how to ensure you’re covering the basics when it comes to proper preventive care for yourself and your pets, visit http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/ and http://www.cdc.gov/worldrabiesday/.

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About the Texas Veterinary Medical Association
Founded in 1903, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association is a professional association composed of more than 3,700 veterinarians committed to protecting public health, promoting high educational, ethical and moral standards within the veterinary profession and educating the public about animal health and its relationship to human health. For more information, call 512/452-4224 or visit http://www.tvma.org.

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