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Animal Attraction: Texas Reservoir Animals Can Serve as Rabies Gateway to Pets

by Stacy Fox

khou.com

Posted on September 25, 2013 at 8:09 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 25 at 8:09 AM

September 28 is World Rabies Day, which stresses worldwide awareness for this dangerous yet preventable disease. The number of rabies cases can be decreased through proper vaccination of pets, increased awareness of the harmful effects of infection and avoidance of wildlife. Another crucial step toward prevention is community education about the risk for rabies infection, its symptoms and effective prevention techniques.

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

"These common rabies vector animals in Texas, like raccoons, skunks and bats, are nocturnal animals," says Valarie Tynes, DVM, DACVB, of Premier Veterinary Behavior Consulting 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."

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

The Texas Veterinary Medical Association aims to raise awareness among Texas pet owners about how to avoid the deadly disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest 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.

SOURCE and LINK:
Texas Veterinary Medical Association
http://www.tvma.org

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