A Word From... Dr. C.A. Heller III DVM


Earlier this year two raccoons were found to be infected with rabies, right here in Stark County. It was deemed a serious enough problem that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources dropped an oral rabies vaccine around the affected area.

Rabies is a very bad health problem. Most cases are fatal. In the past, humans were mostly exposed to it by infected dogs. This is why rabies vaccination has been required by State law. This has greatly reduced the infection in dogs and therefore also reduced the human exposure as well.

Now the largest reservoir of rabies is wildlife. The most common species that harbor this viral disease are raccoons, skunks and bats. It is wise to remember that any mammal is capable of becoming infected. Rabies is spread from an infected animal to an uninfected one by bites or scratches. If you ever come upon any wild animal that is out during the day and acting odd, it would be best to stay away from it and notify the local authorities.

Outdoor cats are very likely to come in contact with infected wildlife. This is because cats prefer to be most active at night. As a result it would be a very good idea to vaccinate your outdoor cats against rabies. I have even known of indoor cats that have caught bats that have entered their home. For this reason, I advise rabies vaccination for all cats.

Rescue groups that handle feral cats should be very careful to avoid getting bitten or scratched. Feral cats hunt on a daily basis and are being exposed to potential reservoirs of rabies. These cats are frequently never vaccinated and are not used to being handled by humans. As a result, they are very likely to scratch or bite anyone who is trying to help them.

In summary, be sure to vaccinate your pets against this fatal illness. It will protect both your pet and your family. If you handle feral cats you might want to look into getting a rabies vaccine for yourself.


C.A. Heller III, DVM
Animal Care Clinic

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