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Vets warning pets need rabies shots

Date Posted: 2006-12-22

The deaths of two Japanese tourists has spurred the Okinawa Prefecture Veterinary Association to issue warnings to dog owners that their animals need rabies vaccinations.

Two tourists visiting the Philippines were attacked by a wild dog and got rabies. Both died of rabies.

Veterinarians say “Okinawa has a lot of mongoose and dogs attacking them. If a mongoose is bitten by a dog and gets rabies, it will be impossible to protect the population because the mongoose lives in wild brush or mountainous areas. They fear a rabies incident could spread into an epidemic. An estimated 130,000 wild dogs live in Okinawa.

“Humans should get vaccinations for rabies too,” says the Association. “People and dogs need the vaccinations, particularly for those traveling to China our southeast Asia countries. They need to get shots.”

The veterinary association says only half the Okinawa dogs have had rabies shots, compared with 73.8% of the animals in mainland Japan. “Rabies sickness infects humans and animals, and is very dangerous. The death rate is 100% if contracted.” A veterinarian also warns tourists to “be careful not to get near animals when traveling, and if you are bitten, go to a doctor immediately.”

The rabies incubation period is 15~60 days, with muscle cramps keeping people away from water. Doctors say that within 4~5 days of onset of rabies, patients will die.

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