Animal Care Services urges pet owners to vaccinate their pets for rabies and avoid wildlife
Recent rabies case illustrates need for caution and vigilance
The City of San Antonio's Animal Care Services (ACS) Department is urging residents to avoid wildlife and ensure their pets are vaccinated for rabies. The warning comes after a recent rabies case involving a bat at a local school. At least six children had confirmed exposure to the animal which tested positive for the deadly disease. Given the seriousness of the disease, ACS strongly urges pet owners ensure their pets are vaccinated for rabies as required by both City and State law as well limit their pet’s contact with wildlife. Residents should avoid handling wildlife, and children should be reminded of the dangers of interacting with any animals they do not know, especially bats during this migration season.
Rabies is a potentially fatal viral disease that is spread by contact with infected saliva or neural tissue, primarily through a bite but in certain rare cases through non-bite exposures like abrasions or scratches. The virus infects the central nervous system, eventually causing death in nearly all cases if not prevented with the rabies vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes the initial signs of rabies as flu-like symptoms--fever, general malaise or headache. These symptoms can last for days and eventually progress to symptoms of anxiety, confusion, and agitation, progressing to delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations and insomnia. According to a Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association study, more than 90% of all rabies cases in the United States are in wildlife, making rabies in domestic animals rare. In 2012 to date, the Metropolitan Health District has confirmed 12 cases of rabies in Bexar County, all in bats.
In addition to being required by City ordinance, all dogs and cats in the City of San Antonio must have a current rabies vaccination per State law. Animal Care Services hosts weekly low cost vaccination clinics each Monday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the shelter located at 4710 State Highway 151. Rabies vaccinations are available at $10 and all clinics are held in partnership with local veterinary service Petshotz. For more information on rabies, visit www.dshs.state.tx.us.