Rabies: How to protect yourself and your pet from this deadly disease



Since August is National Immunization Month and September 28th is World Rabies Day, Dr. Coffin will take this opportunity to discuss Rabies.  Did you know that in 2014 over half of the Rabies cases in the United States occurred in only five states and Oklahoma was one of those states?



Rabies is a deadly virus that can infect all mammal, including humans.  The virus is secreted in saliva and usually transmitted from one mammal to another via a bite wound from an infected animal.  However, the infection can also occur when saliva from an infected animal comes into contact with an open wound.  Unfortunately, once signs of the disease appear, it is almost always fatal.  Therefore, prevention with proper vaccination is the best way to stop the spread of this deadly disease.

Signs of Rabies:

  • Fearfulness
  • Aggression
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Staggering
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Death

The most common signs seen with Rabies is a sudden change in behavior but any mammal exhibiting neurological symptoms should be suspected.  There is no treatment once these clinical signs appear.


Unfortunately, there is no blood test for Rabies.  Suspect animals must be euthanized and their brain sent for testing.  Microscopic examination of the brain matter is the only way to diagnose Rabies.

Prevention and control:

  • Vaccination by a licensed veterinarian
  • Don’t let your pets roam
  • Spay and neuter
  • Don’t leave exposed garbage or pet food outside as these attract wild and stray animals
  • Don’t keep wild animals as pets.
  • Never handle an unfamiliar animal, especially if they are acting strangely.
  • Immediately report any strange wild or stray animal behavior to your local animal control.
  • Bat-proof your house to prevent bats from nesting.

What to do if you are bitten by a wild or stray animal:

  • Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and lots of water for 15 minutes and then treat with a disinfectant such as iodine.
  • Contact your physician immediately.
  • If possible, confine or capture the animal if it can be done
  • Call the local animal control immediately.
  • If you must kill the animal to prevent it from escaping, do not damage the head.
  • Report the bite to your local health department

By acting together, we can prevent Rabies.  Contact Guthrie Pet Hospital to vaccinate and spay and neuter your pets.

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