The Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA) has partnered with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to sponsor a statewide effort to raise rabies awareness and promote health guidelines to safely vaccinate animals. This week long observance will take place Monday, Sept. 22 through Sunday, Sept. 28.
Each September, the two organizations collectively sponsor Rabies Awareness Week and raise awareness of the fatal disease, which occurs when a virus attacks the nervous system. Throughout the week, VVMA and VDH will educate families about rabies, promote guidelines to prevent pets’ exposure to the disease, and encourage veterinarians to offer the same messaging to their patients, and others in the veterinary medical field. The Virginia Department of Health confirmed 488 rabies cases in 2013. Although this constituted a 14 percent reduction from 2012, the VVMA and VDH seek to continue reducing the number of statewide cases.
Although rabies is most commonly found in Virginia’s wildlife, the VVMA urges that any mammal, including humans, can get rabies. Particularly in Virginia, approximately 10 percent of animals diagnosed with rabies annually are domestic animals such as dogs and cats.