MDOL Urges Pet Owners
to Vaccinate for Rabies
spring sprung and summer fast approaching, the Montana Department of Livestock
is stressing the importance of rabies vaccination to pet owners.
weather means an increased presence of wildlife, said Dr. Tahnee Szymanski, MDOL
staff veterinarian, which increases the potential for wildlife-pet interactions.
the time of year when we typically see the number of positive cases increase, so
people need to make sure their pets are current on rabies vaccinations,”
Szymanski said. “If you aren’t sure, contact your local veterinarian.”
a pet is not vaccinated for rabies and is exposed to an infected or potentially
infected animal, tough decisions must be made. At that point, the owner must
decide between euthanizing the pet – which is recommended by the Compendium on
Rabies Prevention & Control – or placing the pet in a long-term quarantine
that are exposed but current on vaccinations need only a booster vaccination and
home observation for 45 days. Recommendations for exposed pets not current on
vaccinations are made on a case-by-case basis.
has had one case this
year where an unvaccinated bitch and four of her puppies were euthanized after
being exposed, which also resulted in multiple human exposures.
of the seriousness of the disease and the strict guidelines for exposed animals,
vaccination is critical,” Szymanski said. “It’s an inexpensive way to
safeguard your pet from rabies.”
, most rabies is found in skunks and bats, although any mammal can get infected,
carry the disease and infect other animals. The disease is spread by bites or
when infected saliva comes into contact with open wounds or mucous membranes.
Rabies is always fatal once the onset of symptoms appears.
said any animal showing strange or unusual behavior – such as nocturnal
animals like skunks and bat being out during the daytime – should be avoided
and immediately reported to local animal control authorities or their
additional information, such as what to do if you suspect a rabid animal or are
bitten or scratched by an animal of unknown vaccination status, please see the
Department of Livestock rabies information
Department of Public Health & Human Services rabies information
for Disease Control rabies information
Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control
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