Finally, always contact an animal control officer or wildlife expert if you see a wild animal acting strangely. Because of the deadly nature of this disease, you should never attempt to capture a wild animal on your own.
When traveling in a foreign country, never contact dogs or cats that are wandering. Rabies prevention in other countries may not be as strict as it is here. Our practice had an intern who went to Africa to work with orphaned primates. When she came home, she was informed that the dog she had been in contact with had rabies. She went through a series of rabies vaccinations and never showed symptoms. Other American citizens who were not so lucky as to be alerted to their contact with a rabid animal in a foreign country have died from rabies.
World Rabies Awareness Day happens every Sept. 28. Although we rarely see human rabies deaths in our countries, more than 55,000 people die from rabies annually in Asia and Africa. That’s one person every 10 minutes. What’s even sadder is that many of these deaths are children. For those of us in North America, these deaths may seem remote, but we should never lose sight that this killer still lurks in our own backyard.
A rabies vaccine clinic sponsored by Veterinary Association of the North Shore will take place in many North Shore towns on May 1 from 4 to 6 p.m.
Dr. Elizabeth Bradt is a 1986 graduate of Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and is the owner of All Creatures Veterinary Hospital in Salem (www.creaturehealth.com). She is a member of the American Society of Veterinary Journalists. Email your pet questions to email@example.com. Please title your email “Vet Connection.”