Public health veterinarians and the veterinary community at large are observing the 4th annual World Rabies Day tomorrow, September 28. This terrible and universally fatal disease still kills an average of 55,000 people around the world every year. Fortunately, human rabies cases in the US are minimal, but that is in large part because of aggressive animal vaccinations and leash laws, and ongoing educational efforts to keep the public and the medical community informed.
AVMA has an excellent new podcast of an interview of Dr. Lynne White-Shim, assistant director of the AVMA’s Scientific Activities Division about rabies in the world today. The Global Alliance for Rabies Control has this excellent series of videos about rabies which you can use to teach your families and children about the problem and how to minimize risk.
We strongly encourage that all cats, regardless of personal circumstances, receive annual rabies vaccinations. There is really only one valid reason not to, and that is if the cat is actively fighting an acute bacterial or viral infection and has had a fever within a week or so. Los Angeles County is reporting an increase in bat rabies cases this year, and I have seen a number of cats over the years in this area that have found and played with bats, potentially exposing them to rabies. We DO have it here, and it IS a real threat.