SEAVILLE - Upper Township held two successful rabies clinics in January and February at Shore Veterinarians in Seaville. The first Free Rabies Clinic of the year in January had in attendance 142 dogs and 37 cats. In February, 88 dogs and 23 cats. The campaign to keep rabies out of our pet population is succeeding thanks to rabies immunization of dogs, cats, and ferrets. Between 1998 and the middle of 2013, there were only seven cases of rabies in dogs reported in New Jersey, the last in 2008.
Ongoing prevention of rabies is an important public health measure. Rabies is a zoonotic disease, one that can be transmitted from animals to humans. Any warm blooded animal can contract, carry and transmit rabies. Almost all human cases of rabies were fatal until 1865, when a vaccine was developed by Louis Pasteur and Emile Roux. Recorded human deaths in the United States have dropped from 100 or more in the early 20th Century to one or two per year. This is because of active campaigns to vaccinate dogs and cats and improved vaccines and treatments for humans. Most human rabies cases are from bat bites, which may go unnoticed and untreated. If you suspect that you or someone in your family has been bitten by a bat, seek medical attention immediately. Modern treatment is relatively painless with few side effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which recommends that you consult a physician after any bite by a warm blooded animal or exposure to their saliva or brain tissue.
Rabies in cats has accounted for 90 percent of the domestic animal cases in New Jersey since 1989. For the last 5 years there has been an average of 16 cats infected with rabies annually. In that same period since 1989, the most cases have been found in raccoons (4137) and skunks (853). During 2000-2004, more cats than dogs were reported rabid in the United States. The large number of rabies-infected cats might be attributed to fewer cat vaccination laws, fewer leash laws for cats, and the roaming habits of cats. The relatively large number of infected cats is probably also due to cats tangling with raccoons and skunks, common visitors to our backyards and fields.
Worldwide, there are about 55,000 human deaths from rabies, most of them in Asia and Africa. In 97 percent of these cases, the cause was a dog bite. As recently as November 2013, a graduate student at a university in India was bitten by a stray puppy on the campus and died of rabies.
These free clinics are offered to New Jersey residents each year to provide rabies protection for pets. For any information on future Free Clinics, please call Shore Animal Control at 1-800-351-1822.