The discovery of a rabies infected dog in Lafayette Parish is sounding an alarm for pet owners throughout Acadiana. Public health experts and veterinarians agree, a yearly rabies vaccination for your pet provides a critically important barrier between wildlife and human beings.
Here's more on what rabies looks like, and how to protect yourself and your family.
Rabies is an almost always fatal virus that attacks the brain and nervous system, and it's transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. Rabies is constantly present in Acadiana's wildlife population, in fact, the most common way for your companion animal to contract rabies is through contact with wildlife.
The main carriers are raccoons, skunks and bats, and all companion animals, dogs, cats, horses and ferrets, are at risk.
Dr Rene Porter: “Vaccinating your domestic animals is the most important thing, realize that we had a horse with rabies in Louisiana, we've had a cat and a dog, all recently, so we want to make sure that all of our pets, especially our horses, are vaccinated, and include your ferrets, also.”
Dr. Poirrier says the rabies vaccine is highly effective, but only if administered by a licensed veterinarian, and only if its repeated annually.
“The rabies vaccination is not fully protective until the second time it's given, so the first time is important, but a year later, you have to make sure you give it that second year to make sure it's being protective” says Dr. Porter.
Just a reminder, a rabies vaccination is more than just a good idea to protect your pets and yourself, it's also the law. All pet owners must vaccinate all companion animals over the age of four months, annually.
Here are some more ways to protect your pet and your family:
- Don't feed, touch or adopt wild animals, or stray dogs or cats that exhibit unusual behavior.
- Keep family pets indoors at night, don't leave them outside unattended or allow them to roam free.
- Don't attract wild animals, particularly raccoons or skunks, into your home or yard.
- Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to your local health department or animal control center.
To get your pet vaccinated or for more information on how to prevent rabies, log on to the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association website by clicking on this link, http://www.lvma.org/findavet.php and entering the name of your parish. You'll find a list of LVMA veterinarians in your community.