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Rabies in Vaccinated Cats

Murray KO, Holmes KC, Hanlon CA: Rabies in vaccinated dogs and cats in the United States, 1997-2001, J Am Vet Med Assoc 235:691, 2009.

Rabies is one of the most well-known and oldest zoonotic diseases. The disease continues to be a major public health concern in the United States. World Rabies Day is recognized annually in the month of September to highlight this concern. Globally, 35,000 to 50,000 human deaths can be attributed to bites from rabid dogs, primarily in Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin American and India. The incidence of rabies in domestic animals in the United States has decreased substantially in the last 50 years, while the incidence in wildlife has increased. This retrospective study contains results from 21 states and indicates that rabies is uncommon in vaccinated dogs and cats but can still occur. Thirty-five laboratory-confirmed cases of rabies out of 1,104 cases involved dogs and cats with a history of rabies vaccination. This information included 2 dogs and 3 cats in which vaccinations were considered current. The clinical signs of rabies most often seen in cats include aggression, paralysis, and lethargy. Other signs include excitability, change in voice, loss of appetite, choking, difficulty swallowing, ataxia, tremors, and anorexia. The study concluded that veterinarians should include rabies in the differential diagnosis for any dog or cat with clinical signs compatible with rabies regardless of vaccination history. [VT]
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Related articles:
Blanton JD, Robertson K, Palmer D et al: Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2008, J Am Vet Med Assoc 235:676, 2009.
>> PubMed Abstract

Frymus T, Addie D, Belak S et al: Feline rabies. ABCD guidelines on prevention and management, J Feline Med Surg 11:585, 2009.