North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine is the recipient of first place honors in the Rabies Vaccination Competition sponsored by Merial and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control.
The CVM International Veterinary Student Association and the Veterinary Student Public Health Corps had the most participating members of any veterinary college in the nation in last fall’s competition. The goal of the annual event is to raise public awareness of the danger rabies presents while increasing the number of pets vaccinated against the deadly disease.
Winning the competition means NC State CVM now has the honor of hosting the 2012 World Rabies Symposium on September 29. Sponsored by Merial, the symposium will feature local, national, and international experts from the fields of human and veterinary medicine and public health discussing the “One Health” message of how rabies interacts with the environment, wild and domestic animals, and people.
Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of U.S. rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.
According to the CDC, the rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort.
As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, increase in saliva, and difficulty swallowing. Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.
Raccoon rabies virus is present in the raccoon population in virtually every North Carolina county. Domestic animals are susceptible to rabies but there are few cases in North Carolina because of the use of USDA-licensed rabies vaccines. North Carolina law requires owners of dogs, cats and ferrets to have their pets currently vaccinated against rabies, beginning at four months of age.
Rabies occurs in more than 150 countries and each year more than 55,000 people die of the disease throughout the world. Of these deaths, approximately 40% are children. Of note, dogs are the source of 99% of human rabies deaths making the rabies vaccination of dogs a critical public health initiative.
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