State law requires rabies vaccinations for pets

From staff reports:

Dog, cat and ferret owners will now be required by Washington State to have their animals vaccinated for rabies. According to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), this new requirement takes effect Jan. 1, 2012, and “aims to reduce the numbers of rabies exposures in Washington.”

While rabies vaccinations are often required at the city and county level, there has not been a state level rule regarding this.

The DOH says that hundreds of Washington residents are required to get their own rabies vaccinations and shots, due to contact with possibly exposed animals. Vaccinating domestic pets is one of the easiest ways to combat any possible exposure, the DOH notes.

According to the DOH, most domestic pets exposed to rabies in Washington results through contact with wild bats. When pets are exposed to a sick bat, oftentimes the owner ends up handling that bat, increasing the owner’s chances of contracting the disease. Twice as many cats as dogs test positive for rabies across the U.S., the DOH notes.

In the event that a pet owner comes into contact with a rabid bat, the DOH notes that post-exposure vaccination is required, or the results could be life-threatening.

The DOH advises people to never handle wild bats, but if they do, to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. The last two humans infected with rabies in Washington state occurred in 1995 and 1997, and the last positive test of a domestic pet for rabies was in 2002.


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