Rabies Still On Rise, Has Vets Worried

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

Puppies may act like they're invincible, but with the number of confirmed rabies cases in Michigan skyrocketing, they're actually more vulnerable than they'd like to believe.

"We've had clients with bats in their houses tested positive for rabies," says Dr. Margaret Berry, a veterinarian at Mt. Hope Veterinary Hospital.

The number of rabies cases in Michigan has now risen to a record 170, nearly four times as much as last year's total of 49.

Dr. Berry says bats are the most common carrier and spreader of rabies, though cats, dogs and horses have gotten it this year, too-- and have ultimately died.

"There is no treatment for rabies," Dr. Berry says.

There may be no treatment, but there is prevention.

In light of the rabies epidemic, vets are strongly urging people to re-vaccinate their pets-- advice the pet owners we spoke to took to heart.

"He is vaccinated," says Amy Cooper of her dog, Buddy. "He is good with his rabies shots. I get them before something worse happens."

Contrary to popular belief, it's not just animals that spend time outdoors that are at the greatest risk of getting rabies. Dr. Berry reminds that bats easily can fly into people's homes and bite them there, and that it's a very common occurence in the fall.

"It does make me nervous," says dog owner Diane Bennett.

And Dr. Berry expects more rabies cases before the year is over.

But with every vaccination, a family pet can be protected from the killer disease.


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