Everyone at Animal Hospital of North Asheville wants you to understand the extreme importance of always being certain that your pet has a vaccination against rabies that is current. Rabies is a fatal disease for pets and people, and your pet can be exposed at any time by coming in contact with wildlife. We have had patients that were kept strictly indoors at their homes but were exposed by a bat coming into the house. One of our patients, a tiny Yorkie, was exposed when her mom opened the door for her to go out into their fenced yard and a raccoon was right there, just outside the door. You may think it won’t happen to your pet, but it can! If your pet is exposed and does not have a current rabies vaccination, the law states that you must quarantine your pet at an approved facility for six months at your expense or euthanize your pet. This is the law! Please prevent a heartbreaking situation from occurring by always being very careful to keep your pet’s rabies vaccination up-to-date!
Important: Even if your pet has a current rabies vaccination, if he or she comes in contact with wildlife (generally through a bite), your pet is required by law to have a booster rabies vaccination within 72 hours. There are no exceptions. Rabies is prevalent in our area and, for that reason, the laws are strictly enforced.
The following article appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times on January 21st and while our hospital did not care for the rabid cat, the fact that a rabid cat was found in North Asheville is cause for concern among all of us.
ASHEVILLE — Six people are receiving post-exposure rabies vaccines after a stray cat found near UNC Asheville last week was found to be rabid. Health officials first notified people about the rabid cat Jan. 14 after the person who picked it up took it to a pet clinic where it was found to be rabid. The cat was euthanized and the person who picked up the cat and five employees of the pet clinic had to receive rabies vaccines. Health officials believe the cat received an injury from an unknown animal about a week before becoming ill.
Several animals are responsible for transmitting rabies in Western North Carolina including coyotes, foxes, skunks, groundhogs and bats. In a majority of cases rabies is carried by raccoons. All these animals are known to live throughout the state and Buncombe County, including the city limits of Asheville. They live on food found around trash cans and dumpsters everywhere, and also on pet food left outdoors for domesticated animals including cats. Cats that roam outdoors can also easily come into contact with these animals, which can transmit rabies to the cat, and potentially be further spread to other cats or pets.
The department of health is working with the Asheville Police Department and Animal Control to increase surveillance in the area and possibly capture feral cats near where the rabid cat was found.
Health officials are also warning people to take the following precautions:
-- Pet owners should have their dogs, cats and ferrets vaccinated for rabies and for those vaccines to be kept up to date.
-- If an unvaccinated pet is exposed to any other animal whose rabies status cannot be verified, that pet must be quarantined by a veterinarian for 6 months at the owner’s expense; or the pet must be euthanized.
-- It is also important that food not be left outdoors to feed wild animals or feral cats. Kevin Calhoun with the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department says, “Don’t feed wild animals. Feeding feral cats or wild animals brings the two together, increasing the potential for the spread of rabies.”
-- Contact authorities if an animal is seen behaving unusually. This may mean that a wild animal is not afraid of humans; a nocturnal animal is seen wandering around during the day; a pet is uncharacteristically aggressive; or any animal is behaving in a drunken state or lethargic.
To learn more about rabies CLICK HERE and type 'Rabies' into the search box.