Sat. May 18th, 2024

Anti-vax pet owners opposing rabies shot. That’s concerning to vets.

Hesitancy around vaccines has spilled over to pet owners in recent years, sparking concern about the resurgence of rabies, a virus that’s nearly always fatal.

Some pet owners argue against vaccinating dogs – over concerns that vaccines shorten the canines’ lifespans or beliefs that vaccines can cause autism in dogs. But autism’s spectrum of symptoms is uniquely human and experts say anti-vaxxing campaigns among dog owners are especially dangerous considering the public health consequences of rabies.

“While, thankfully, we don’t see a lot of rabies, the consequence is disastrous,” Dr. Rena Carlson, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, told USA TODAY. “It’s essentially 100% fatal. So having a rabies vaccine for your cat and dog is really, really important on many levels.”

Carlson, of AVMA, stressed how important it is for people to talk with their veterinarians about the vaccine and the risks a pet faces if it does not get vaccinated.

What is rabies?

Rabies spreads when an infected animal bites or scratches someone, invading mammals’ nervous systems. The virus becomes especially dangerous when it reaches the brain. The incubation period can last days or more than a year.

When rabies enters the brain, it causes flu-like symptoms that cause animals to become rabid, and develop brain swelling. The disease becomes fatal when an infected person or animal suddenly loses breathing and heart function.

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