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The Importance of Rabies Awareness - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

The Importance of Rabies Awareness

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World Rabies Awareness Day kicks off Saturday, September 28th. It was established in 2007 by veterinarians, to help make the public more aware of the health impact in human and animal rabies.

Last year 6,000 cases of animal rabies were reported in the U.S. and every year the disease kills an estimated 55,000 people worldwide. The good news is, rabies is one hundred percent preventable.  

"Vaccination for domestic pets is the key to rabies prevention," said Neil Dyer, Director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and Professor of Animal Sciences at NDSU. "The virus is always smoldering out there; it never goes away."

Getting your pets and even horses vaccinated against the virus is the number one way to prevent spread of the disease and protect your family. In the upper Midwest, skunks are the leading carrier of rabies.

Last year, NDSU tested 724 animals, including cats, cows, horses, skunks and bats, for rabies. Seventy-five animals tested positive, 50 were skunks.

If you are bit by a rabid or wild animal, the CDC recommends washing any animal bite immediately to prevent infection and seek medical attention.

Rabies travels by nerve tissue from the bite site to the brain, so people who are exposed to rabies have time to seek medical treatment before symptoms develop.

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