Posted: September 26, 2013, 12:50 p.m. EDT
© Gina Cioli/I-5 Studio
Ferrets are usually required by law to be vaccinated against rabies, just like dogs and cats.
Veterinary clinics and animal shelters across the United States are offering free or discounted rabies vaccinations this week in recognition of World Rabies Day on Saturday, September 28.
The global awareness campaign includes the sixth annual Merial Rabies Symposium, which the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine will host Saturday in Starkville, Mississippi. The event, sponsored by animal health company Merial Ltd., is expected to draw hundreds of experts and students from all over the United States.
In Virginia, the state veterinary medical association and the Department of Health are marking Rabies Awareness Week by educating families and encouraging veterinarians to communicate the dangers of rabies with clients.
"There are several things pet owners can do to protect themselves and their pets from rabies,” said Virginia's state public health veterinarian, Julia Murphy, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVPM. "Vaccinating domestic animals like dogs and cats is key to rabies prevention. If we protect them, we protect ourselves.”
The campaign includes these tips for safeguarding against rabies:
• Appreciate wildlife from a distance.
• Do not adopt a wild animal as a pet.
• Keep pets on your own property.
• Keep pet food and garbage inside.
Signs of possible rabies infection in animals include:
• General sickness
• Problems swallowing
• Lots of drool or saliva
• Appearing more tame than expected
• Biting at everything
• Paralysis or difficulty moving
Rabies, which is almost always fatal, kills more than 55,000 people worldwide annually, the Global Alliance for Rabies Control reported. About 40,000 Americans each year receive shots known as post-exposure prophylaxis because of potential rabies exposure, the organization added.
Among the veterinary clinics and animal shelters offering rabies vaccination campaigns are South Arundel Veterinary Hospital in Edgewater, Maryland; Corona Animal Shelter in Corona, California; and Branchburg Animal Hospital in Branchburg, N.J. Other events are listed at the Global Alliance website.
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