Rabies: It’s Not Like the Movies

Nov 19, 2016 | Cats, Dogs, Infectious Diseases, Uncategorized

The first image many of us have of rabies is an animal, driven to the heights of aggression while foaming at the mouth. This image is driven by movies like Old Yeller, books such as Stephen King’s Cujo and even children’s films such as Over the Hedge. These have skewed the public’s understanding of rabies and its signs.

Let’s review the facts:

Rabies is caused by a virus. Rabies only affects mammals, and it can affect any type of mammal: Cats, dogs, squirrels, cows, and humans. An animal with rabies sheds the virus in its saliva and mucous secretions. Direct contact such as a bite is required to spread the virus. Rabies does not survive in the environment, only in host animals.

The scary thing about rabies is that after a bite, it can take up to a year before the pet or human shows clinical signs. Once infected the virus moves into the nervous system of the animal. It hides out here, invisible to the pet’s immune system, until it migrates to the brain. In addition, the animal is actually shedding the virus ten days before the clinical signs are seen.

The virus can affect animals in two forms. The first is the furious form—this is the one that inspired all the pop culture representation. These are aggressive animals that will try to attack you. The second form is the dumb form. In this form, the animal can show neurologic signs such as weakness, drooling, bumping into objects, and a change in personality. Some affected animals can also show a voice change.

Prevention

Bats, raccoons, and skunks are the most common carriers of rabies in Central Virginia. Since bats are one of the most common carriers, even pets that remain indoors should be vaccinated. In fact, this is required by Virginia State law. Your pet should receive its first rabies vaccine at four months of age. Virginia law requires a booster at one year of age. If your pet is not vaccinated or up to date on their vaccines and bites a person, they will need to either have a forced quarantine period of six months or be euthanized and tested for rabies.

If your unvaccinated pet was attacked by an animal afflicted with rabies, it will be euthanized.

If your pet is up to date on its rabies vaccine and gets bitten, they should receive an immediate booster and a 45 day observation period.

If your pet is attacked by a wild animal and kills it, the animal’s body should be brought to your veterinarian for rabies testing. If you are bitten by a wild animal and kill it, the body should be brought to your veterinarian for rabies testing. If you are bitten by an unvaccinated dog not showing signs, the animal should be placed in quarantine for 10 days of observation as rabies is only shed 10 days before showing clinical signs. No person in the United States has ever contracted rabies from a dog, cat or ferret held in quarantine for 10 days.

Rabies is very rare in vaccinated animals. It is however endemic in our area. The best prevention method is avoiding animals that are not acting normal. This could be a raccoon running around in the day; they are normally nocturnal. This could be a skunk charging towards you and your pet. This could be the neighbor’s sweet dog that is not acting like itself or is suddenly aggressive. If you find a pet on the side of the road, injured, move slowly and use precautions. If the animal was hit by a car, they are likely in a great deal of pain and are apt to bite you. As always in any bite case, you should seek medical attention. Be cautious and avoid placing yourself in dangerous situations. Even small bites can become infected and have grave consequences. Keep your pets up to date on their rabies vaccinations. This protects both of you.

For more information, contact our team at VETSS, a Charlottesville VA urgent care animal hospital!

A Summer Guide to Heat Stress and Heat Stroke for Dog Owners

As we get into summer and the temperature rises, it’s important to be aware of how the heat affects your pup. Please read below to recognize the signs of heat stress and know when you should seek veterinary care for your pet. I’m comfortable outside. Why is my dog so...

A Caring Guide to Planning for the Loss of Your Pet

Having pets is one of the most rewarding relationships a person can have. They provide us with humor, love, and lots of snuggles. With all pet families, however, there comes a time when we must say goodbye. Preparing to Say Goodbye to Your Pet For some, this comes...

One Shot. Four Viruses. Protect Your Dog With the DAPP Vaccine

New dog owners are often full of questions: Why does my dog chew this? Why did it eat that? One of the most important questions is, “Why does Lucky need all these vaccines?” Simply put, puppies are very vulnerable to diseases. Which is why it is pretty amazing that...

What to Do When You Find Hurt, Injured, or Lost Wild Animals

As winter ends and spring begins, it will be time for many of us to get back to hiking, kayaking, camping, and gardening. As we do this, we will come into contact with wildlife. This blog will cover a few tips on finding wildlife and what to do when you do so. What...

Resource Topics

Peanut Butter: No Longer a Safe-Bet Dog Treat

Many of us, your veterinarian included, give peanut butter as a treat to our pets. For years this has been an...

Facts And Tips For Dog Bite Prevention Awareness Week

In honor of National Dog Bite Awareness week, April 7-13, 2019, we thought we would share with you some...
Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
13 hours ago
VETSS

Another Tuesday, another team member! And this week, we are featuring a new face. Erica joined VETSS in March 2022 as a Client Service Representative. Her passion for animals, background in customer service, and desire for a fast-paced working environment makes her an ideal person for this role. She has been a ton of fun to get to know, and is doing an impressive job of learning the ropes of vet med. She has her eyes on becoming a skilled Veterinary Assistant and we look forward to watching that dream develop into a reality right here at VETSS. Since Erica grew up in this area, she seems to know everyone and everything about the best spots to eat, gather, and enjoy life. We feel very fortunate to have her on our team!

Below are some beautiful photos of her little family, including her dogs, Silas and Dutch. Fun fact: Dutch is the momma dog whose x-ray we posted a few weeks ago. She's nursing her healthy, growing puppies thanks to Erica's watchful eye.
... See MoreSee Less

Another Tuesday, another team member! And this week, we are featuring a new face. Erica joined VETSS in March 2022 as a Client Service Representative. Her passion for animals, background in customer service, and desire for a fast-paced working environment makes her an ideal person for this role. She has been a ton of fun to get to know, and is doing an impressive job of learning the ropes of vet med. She has her eyes on becoming a skilled Veterinary Assistant and we look forward to watching that dream develop into a reality right here at VETSS. Since Erica grew up in this area, she seems to know everyone and everything about the best spots to eat, gather, and enjoy life. We feel very fortunate to have her on our team!  Below are some beautiful photos of her little family, including her dogs, Silas and Dutch. Fun fact: Dutch is the momma dog whose x-ray we posted a few weeks ago. Shes nursing her healthy, growing puppies thanks to Ericas watchful eye.Image attachmentImage attachment
1 week ago
VETSS

We are ramping back up with our #teammembertuesday posts to help you get to know our team.

This week, we are both featuring and congratulating Brandi Wilson for officially joining our team as a Veterinary Assistant. Brandi came to us a few months ago for a student externship. Her strong worth ethic and eagerness to learn was immediately recognized. We feel lucky that she chose to take the next step in her career right here at VETSS and look forward to supporting her through the Veterinary Technician Program and beyond.

These photos show that Brandi is clearly a lover of animals, big and small. Raising Black Angus Cattle has been a family affair for the last 8 years. In her free time, you'll find Brandi outside enjoying her dogs that she actively hunts with, or working on the farm. On a rainy day, you might find her curled up with a good book, cross stitching, or tuning in to her favorite TV shows. Here are a few photos of her family and precious labs, Molly and Zeus. Cat Boots is not pictured. Welcome to the team, Brandi!
... See MoreSee Less

Load more