April 5, 2006
There is a warning tonight from health officials after rabies was found in a domestic dog in Albemarle County, for the first time in years.
"It's a big concern because it's a serious illness," said pet owner, Carlotta McIntyre.
McIntyre knows that rabies is not something to take lightly. So do officials from the Thomas Jefferson Health District. More so now, since for the first time in 10 years, a case of dog rabies was found in Albemarle County just last month.
"When you start to get rabies in family pets, that really shows you that you're at a very high possibility and probability of in fact having exposure to humans," said Roy Crewz, with the Thomas Jefferson Health District.
With that risk out there, and with this being Rabies Awareness Week, health officials are urging pet owners to make sure their animals vaccinations are up to date.
"Rabies vaccination in the state of Virginia--and it is different state by state--All animals--dogs and cats--by the time they're four months of age need to be vaccinated for rabies," said Monticello Animal Hospital vet, Dr. John Andersen. "The primary vaccination is only good for one year. After that point, vaccinations are given every three years."
Experts also stress you should keep your distance from stray animals, whether it be a dog, cat, or a raccoon, regardless of how cute they may look.
"Any and all strays may be potential sources of rabies exposure," said Crewz.
That threat is something McIntyre hopes others will always keep in mind.
"I feel okay because I know my animals are up-to-date, but I'd feel much better if I knew that everybody around me had theirs up-to-date," she said.
Because other than keeping your pets rabies-free, it's also about making sure that public stays healthy as well.
That domestic dog with rabies In Albemarle had to be put to sleep, along with several other pets in the household.
\If you think your pet may have been exposed to rabies, experts say you should contact your vet and also local health officials immediately.