People's Animal Welfare Society
Eastern Province

Rabies Prevention

Rabies awareness means rabies prevention. Vaccinating companion animals, such as dogs and cats, against rabies for their protection as well as the protection of other family members is vitally important. Rabies is the oldest and deadliest disease known to mankind. Rabies is also 100% preventable.

Rabies is a viral disease that can be transmitted to animals and humans. The disease is transmitted mainly by bite, but exposure may also occur through contamination of broken skin or mucous membranes with saliva from an infected animal. Once neurological symptoms of the disease develop, rabies is fatal to both animals and humans.

Rabies, known as daa alkalb (disease of the dog) is not, in fact, transmitted only by dogs. It can be transmitted from other animals besides dogs. Unless vaccinated, the camels, horses, domestic cats and dogs, and all other mammals, wild or domestic, of the Middle East are at risk of contracting rabies and passing it on to humans.

There are 50,000–55,000 people dying from rabies worldwide each year, with 25,000–30,000 human deaths in India alone. That's one person every 10 minutes. Over 3 billion people are at risk of rabies virus infection in over 100 countries in the 21st century!

Rabies Signs and Symptoms

Once infection occurs, the rabies virus grows in muscle tissue and may go undetected for several days or months. During this incubation (or latent) period, the animal appears healthy and shows no sign of infection.

Usually within 1 to 3 months, the virus migrates to the nerves near the site of the infection and spreads to the spinal cord and brain (i.e., the central nervous system). It usually takes from 12 to 180 days to spread through the peripheral nerves to the central nervous system. At this point, the disease progresses rapidly, and the animal begins to show the classic behavioral signs of rabies. The virus spreads to the saliva, tears, breast milk, and urine. The animal usually dies in 4 or 5 days.

Rabies causes typical symptoms. The infection progresses in a predictable manner, from the initial prodormal phase to the excitative, or furious, phase to the final paralytic phase.

The first sign usually is a change in behavior. Pet owners should be aware that behavioral changes can occur as a result of many conditions, from digestive disorders to poisoning.

Rabid animals usually stop eating and drinking, and may appear to want to be left alone. After the initial onset of symptoms, the animal may become vicious or begin to show signs of paralysis. Some rabid animals bite at the slightest provocation and others may be somnolent and difficult to arouse. Once the animal shows signs of paralysis, the disease progresses very quickly and the animal dies.


Be a responsible pet owner!

Vaccinate your animals and keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all dogs, cats, and domestic mammals. This is important not only to keep them from getting rabies, but also to provide a barrier of protection for you, if your animal is bitten by a rabid animal. Keep booster shots current.

Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.

Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.

Avoid contact with unfamiliar animals:

Enjoy wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes from afar. Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans, uncovered compost bins, or pet food left outside.

Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.

Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. "Love your own, leave other animals alone" is a good principle for children to learn.

Prevent bats from entering homes or occupied spaces where they might come in contact with people and pets.

When traveling abroad, avoid contact with wild animals and be especially careful around dogs in developing countries. Rabies is common in parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America where many dogs are infected with rabies. People die of rabies each year in these countries. Before traveling abroad, consult with a health care provider about your risk of exposure to rabies, if you should be immunized against rabies before you go, and how you should handle an animal exposure, should it arise.

Simple ways to keep you, your family and your pets safe.

1. Do not feed, touch, or handle wild animals.

2. Have dogs, cats, horses, and livestock vaccinated regularly by your veterinarian.

3. Maintain control of your pets by keeping cats indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision.

4. Spay or neuter your pets to reduce the number of unwanted or stray animals in your community.