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Rabies, a fatal neurological disease, poses a serious threat not only to your Bakersfield pet but to animals and humans throughout the world. Millions of animals each year die from this illness, and so do an estimated 50,000 people. The good news is that our team at Thurman Veterinary Center in Bakersfield can help prevent rabies from infecting your pet and the other members of your family with the help of pet owners who do their part to schedule the necessary vaccinations.
Rabies is a bullet-shaped virus of the Rhabdoviridae family. The virus ravages the brain and other parts of the central nervous system, causing behavioral changes, functional impairment and eventual death from respiratory failure. The disease is spread from saliva to blood when a rabid mammal bites another mammal -- an unfortunate cause, since many rabid animals becomes aggressive and violent as a consequence of the disease's neurological effects. But while people commonly associate rabies with the typical image of a "mad dog," it is more correct to cite drastic changes in a pet's normal personality as a hallmark symptom. Placid pets tend to become dangerously aggressive, while aggressive animals may become timid or withdrawn. Other behavioral oddities include hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, obsessive licking of the bite wound, and lack of appetite or other changes in dietary habits.
As the disease progresses, physical symptoms such as drooling, staggering, seizures and loss of leg function occur, and/or the animal may simply die suddenly. Unfortunately, there is no cure for rabies in pets, and no way for our animal hospital to even confirm a rabies diagnosis except after death. One of the reasons people fear rabies so much is the fact that animals can spread the disease for up to 10 days before they show any symptoms of it themselves, and during this window of time other pets or even human family members may contract the virus through a bite.
Vaccinations provide a simple solution for protecting pets against this killer disease. Our animal hospital typically provides them among the other core vaccinations we routinely administer to puppies and kittens. Since vaccination is the only effective way to ward off rabies, we urge every owner to schedule these shots within the first few weeks of a new pet's life, especially since the vaccine may take up to 28 days to become fully effective.
Owners must commit to bringing their pets in for occasional booster shots as well. Rabies vaccines do not maintain their potency indefinitely, requiring periodic updates to ensure that the pet remains safe against the virus. Our Bakersfield veterinarian consults with pet owners to help them recognize this necessity and understand when the next booster shot should be administered. Call Thurman Veterinary Center and have your pet vaccinated for rabies today.
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