What is Rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease that infects the central nervous system of humans and animals and causes inflammation of the brain. It can be deadly to animals and humans, so it’s important for pets to be vaccinated.
In Arizona, Maricopa and Pinal County laws require dogs to be vaccinated against the rabies virus. Puppies should receive a rabies vaccine at 16 weeks, and a rabies booster the following year. Once a dog has completed the puppy rabies vaccination series, they should be vaccinated against rabies every three years.
How does it spread?
Typically rabies is spread by other warm-blooded animals infected with the virus. Rabies is most commonly found in bats in Europe, North America, and Australia, and in dogs in Asia and Africa.
From the Arizona Department of Health Services:
In Arizona, the principal rabies hosts are bats, skunks, and foxes. These animals carry their own distinct rabies virus variants or “strains”. When rabies activity within these animal groups increases, rabies can “spillover” into other mammal species, such as bobcats, coyotes, javelina, cats, dogs, horses, cows, etc.
Every year, approximately 30 people are exposed to rabid animals in Arizona. People who are exposed must receive vaccine and anti-rabies serum treatment to prevent infection.
In Arizona, bats present the most common source of rabies exposures to humans because rabid bats often fall to the ground where they are easily accessible to people and pets. Bats are generally not aggressive. Exposure to rabid bats usually occurs when people pick up or handle a sick or dead bat. Other rabies exposures occur when people try to approach or feed wild animals, or in some cases, are attacked by rabid animals such as foxes, bobcats, and skunks. Most rabies exposures can be avoided by simply leaving bats and other wild animals alone.
How can rabies be prevented?
A simple vaccine from your vet will help ensure the health of you and your pet. Dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and other domestic pets should be vaccinated. Arizona law requires dogs to be vaccinated against rabies and licensed.
Get your pet protected! The Arizona Pet Vet FREE Vaccines for Life program can help keep your pets safe from infectious diseases. Find more information here.