Rabies is a serious disease caused by a rhabdovirus. It is one of the most feared infections of all time. Rabies was first discovered in the 16th century to be fatal by Girolamo Fracastoroand and in 1885 Louis Pasteur created the first vaccination. Despite today’s modern vaccination programs, the virus is still a threat to a significant number of human and mammal lives every year. Rabies is particularly dangerous because all warm-blooded mammals are susceptible. It is considered a zoonotic disease, one which is transmitted from animals to humans. Vaccinating against Rabies has helped to diminish the number of cases annually, but rabies still exists even in developed countries and runs rampant through Third World countries in Asia. The only places around the world that remain untouched by the virus are Australia, the British Isles, Cyprus, Hawaii, Japan, New Zealand, and Scandinavia.
Rabies remains a threat due to its high prevalence among unvaccinated wild animals. Species likely to carry the virus vary widely depending upon geographic location, but in the United States they include raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes. Highly susceptible animals in other parts of the world include wolves, mongooses, and jackals.
The most common way in which domesticated animals become infected with the rabies virus is via a bite. Transmission has also occurred via ingestion of infected tissue or by aerosol exposure, but bites remain by far the most prevalent mode of infection. Once an animal is bitten and infected the virus will multiply in the muscular tissue at the point of entry and will then travel to local nerves and finish its journey to the spinal cord and brain and where it incubates. Two days after it first arrives in the central nervous system, the virus is present in all body secretions and the virus is fully contagious. The amount of time that passes between initial infection and onset of clinical symptoms is highly variable. It was found that bites closer to the brain will lead to a shorter incubation period. Appearance of disease symptoms after initial infection may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, but once they have appeared there is no cure for the disease.
There is no definitive set of clinical symptoms for rabies. Certain symptoms are however associated almost exclusively with the disease. There are typically three stages of a rabies infection, prodromal, furious, and paralytic (dumb). There is a high level of variation with the diseases progression and every case is unique so no case of rabies is ever the same.
In the first stage, prodromal, the animal will often exhibit vague, nonspecific symptoms. Signs include apprehension, restlessness, loss of appetite, temperament changes and sometimes vomiting. Symptoms will persist for 2 to 5 days. This stage is followed by either the paralytic or furious form of the disease.
About 30 percent of infected animals will progress from the prodromal stage to the furious form. It is more common in cats than in dogs and generally lasts 2 to 4 days. Symptoms of this phase are characterized by an increased level of restlessness, wandering, viciousness, howling, panting, drooling, and occasionally convulsions. Affected animals will often attempt to attack objects that may or may not be real.
The remaining 70 percent of infected animals will progress to the paralytic form of rabies, which also lasts between 2 and 4 days. This form is most common in dogs. Symptoms include ascending paralysis, beginning near the bite site and gradually progressing up the body, paralysis of the lower jaw, and facial paralysis. Biting is uncommon with this form, but excessive drooling does occur. Victims have difficulty eating and drinking. In dogs, a noticeable change in how the bark sounds occurs as the larynx becomes paralyzed. Symptoms progress to coma and death from respiratory paralysis.
Animals infected will die within 10 days after onset of clinical signs. Once clinical symptoms have appeared, there is no treatment. Any animal that has been exposed to rabies and is not properly immunized should be euthanized. If a vaccinated animal is exposed to the virus he should be re-immunized and kept under close observation for at least 3 months. Of course, if you ever suspect that your pet has been exposed to rabies, contact your veterinarian immediately.
– Meghan, Veterinary Technician
Exotic pets have grown in popularity over the past few years for a number of reasons. Some people enjoy having an unusual pet while others find exotic pets to be easier to care for than a dog or cat. Check out the following list of some of the popular exotic pets:
1. Pocket Pets: This group includes rabbits, ferrets, hamsters, guinea pigs, and other small, furred pets that are commonly purchased from a pet store. Some people choose to adopt their pocket pet from a breeder or even rescue them from a rescue group or shelter.
2. Reptiles: This group includes snakes (non-venomous), Bearded dragons, leopard geckos (they top the list of popular pet reptiles), frogs, tortoises and iguanas. The initial set up for a pet reptile is the greatest cost and then ongoing expenses will include light bulb replacement and food, as well as annual veterinary check ups including a fecal exam for parasites. Large and venomous snakes are illegal or require special permits to be kept as pets in many states.
3. Birds: Many birds make excellent pets and great companions to peoples of all ages. From the pet canary to a pair of lovebirds to a macaw. Like most exotic pets, birds do have special care requirements.
Were you aware that one of the veterinarians at Gilbertsville Veterinary Hospital sees an array of exotic animals? Dr. Coniglario has over 20 years of experience in veterinary medicine and are always happy to help care for your cherished exotic friend.
John A. Coniglario, DVM graduated in 1985 from Cook College of Rutgers University. After working for several years, Dr. Coniglario chose to pursue a veterinary degree. In 1993, he graduated from the University of Florida and began in private practice. Dr. “C” has more than 20 years of experience in veterinary medicine with a special interest in exotics medicine.
Dr. Coniglario welcomes the below list of exotic pets to our hospital and genuinely cares about your pet and will take the extra time to research the best care possible for your pet. Feel free to call us with any questions or to set up an appointment.
Birds of Prey
What is Leptospirosis? Leptospirosis is the one of the world’s most common diseases that is transmitted from animals to people yet is relatively unknown. It is transmitted to humans by contaminated water getting into breaks in the skin, the eyes, or the mucous membranes.
The water is contaminated by infected animals, primarily rats, mice and moles but, other mammals including dogs, deer, rabbits, hedgehogs, cows, sheep, raccoons, opossums, and skunks can transmit the disease.
Most domestic dogs contract leptospirosis by licking the urine of infected mice, which can be found in puddles, riverbanks, ditches, gullies, and other moist rears where infected wild animals may live.
Leptospirosis is easily preventable with a once yearly vaccination which is more effective then treatment. Awareness and a few simple precautions is really all that is needed to prevent this disease from becoming a greater threat to you and your pet.
Leptospirosis Signs is the one of the world’s most common diseases that is transmitted from animals to people. Most domestic dogs contract leptospirosis by licking the urine of infected mice, which can be found in puddles, riverbanks, ditches, gullies, and other moist areas where infected wild animals may live. Leptospirosis is a flu-like disease that causes the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of appetite
- Severe weakness and/or muscle pain
- Excessive water consumption or refusal to drink
- Jaundice (yellow color to the eyes, inside of mouth or skin)
, if not treated in time, can lead to kidney failure, hepatitis and bleeding disorders along with other complications.
With any disease, prevention is much more effective than treatment. So it is important to:
- VACCINATE YOUR DOG.
- Discourage your dog from drinking from standing water.
- Remove food, garbage and nesting materials from your yard to minimize wildlife activity.
Awareness and a few simple precautions is really all that is needed to prevent this disease from becoming a greater threat to you and your pet.
My little boy Jack is the best pet I have ever had. Jack is a medium length fur orange barn tabby that I rescued from the Berks Co. Humane Society when he was 8 weeks old. Ever since then, I have been his mama cat. Jack loves to play fetch, snuggle, eat and one of his all time favorite things to do is watch the toilet flush. He also enjoys wearing his bow tie!! Everyone says I spoil him but even though he is 2 yrs old. He is still a baby to me!