On June 15, 2018, The Oregonian reported that a bat testing positive for the Rabies virus was found inside a Lake Oswego home. While no one was bitten by the bat, it is possible that the dog and two cats who reside at the home had contact with the bat. Fortunately, all of these pets were vaccinated. In the United States, bats are the leading source of rabies transmission to humans.
Why is rabies so serious?
Rabies is 100% fatal to both pets and people once infection occurs. While experimental therapies and a few anecdotal human survival stories have made headlines, there is no cure for rabies.
Does my indoor cat or dog really need to be vaccinated?
The short answer is YES (IN ALL CAPS!). The long answer is:
Dogs – It’s the law. In Oregon, the law requires that dogs be vaccinated for rabies by the time they are 6 months old.
Cats – While Oregon does not require rabies vaccination in cats (except in Multnomah County where it is mandated), cats are the most likely pets to be infected with rabies in Oregon. Bats are the most common carrier of rabies, and cats are predators whose instincts make them the most frequent household pet to come in contact with bats.
There is no post-exposure treatment for pets – If exposed to rabies, people can receive a highly effective post-exposure vaccination. Unfortunately, there is no such treatment for pets.
What happens if my pet isn’t vaccinated and she comes in contact with a rabies carrier?
If an unvaccinated pet comes in contact with a potential rabies carrier, such as a bat, Oregon law requires cats and dogs to be quarantined for 4 months (ferrets for 6 months) or euthanized. The contact animal is considered rabid unless it is tested and is negative. In many cases, the contact animal is unavailable for testing and is assumed positive, mandating quarantine or euthanasia.
The good news?
Rabies is preventable through vaccination. According to the World Health Organization, correctly administered preventative vaccination in pets and post-exposure vaccination in people is 100% effective at preventing the disease.
Most of the estimated 59,000 annual cases of human rabies infection are in the developing world, with only 2-3 cases reported in the United States. It is important to recognize that the reason Americans are safe from rabies is vaccination. Worldwide most human infections (99%) are the result of dog bites, making vaccinating dogs the most effective way to prevent human rabies infection. This is perfectly illustrated by the low human infection rates in the United States, where rabies vaccination of dogs is mandatory in most states, and the few cases we do have are a result of contact with wildlife. Through vaccination, we prevent dogs from becoming infected, which in turn prevents most human infections.
Is my pet current on her vaccine?
Log into your pet portal or give us a call at 503-648-1643 to check that your pet’s rabies vaccine is current! If not, we’ll book an appointment with your veterinarian to get it updated.
More information from the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association – click here.