BTN 500



We are stronger together than we are alone!

  • Register

BT 260clipartOne of the greatest achievements of pet regulation is the establishment of rabies vaccination requirements.

While the United States and other countries vary about which animals to vaccinate, and when, it is commonly accepted that dogs from four to six months of age should be vaccinated for the rabies virus.








BT 260 rabieschart





The rabies virus affects the central nervous system. It is usually transmitted by the saliva of an infected mammal, usually a wild animal. When the rabies virus is contracted, there is a small window of opportunity to begin treatment. Failure to seek treatment will usually result in death as the virus attacks and destroys the nervous system.




The likelihood of a person being bitten by a wild animal is quite low. However, think about your dogs and cats. I often receive complaints about dogs getting sprayed by skunks, and often by killing skunks. In Illinois, skunks are one of 3 main carriers of the rabies virus. If the dog bit the skunk, it would potentially be exposed to the virus. Now imagine that you give the dog several baths to get rid of the skunk odor. During the bath, the dog then licks your face, or even your lips. This then potentially exposes you.


Last year, I spoke to an emergency room doctor that routinely volunteers his services in the Caribbean and South America. One of the requirements for the doctors and nurses is that they be vaccinated for rabies. This is not cheap. The doctor spoke with the leader of the group. A few years ago, one of the physicians died of rabies because a stray dog licked his hand, which had an open wound. That doctor was not aware that many of the dogs carry a latent form of the rabies virus. That country has a large problem with canine overpopulation. Dogs are generally considered “community" pets, and do not receive vaccines of any kind.



Many people tell me their cats are indoor pets, and therefore need not be vaccinated. I have only to point out that many homes in our community get bats inside their homes. Bats are also a top carrier of rabies in our state. Cats will instinctually try to catch or kill the bat flying in the house. There is your potential exposure.



Due to public policy and animal control enforcement, the rabies virus exposure to humans has been greatly reduced.




Edited by:  Jan Mitchell