Thursday, July 6, 2017

Rabies and Louis

It's July 6 and an important day to think about a famous French biologist by the name of Louis Pasteur, and about his discoveries.  Lots of people think about his work in the area of pasteurization, but we dogs think about his work in the area of rabies.  His work on rabies focused on rabbits, and today, in 1885 he successfully tested his first rabies vaccine.

Rabies is a horrid condition, and when people or dogs are bit by a rabid animal, death is most surely certain. Over 55,000 people die worldwide from the disease.  Rabies is found pretty much everywhere, except Antarctica, and the state of Hawaii.  It is reported that in the U.S., rabies can occur in all mammals, but is most often found in  raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes.  Although rabies is so widespread, the vaccination for rabies, can protect and help control it. Once upon a time, dogs were vaccinated for rabies every year.  Now many places recommend every 3 years.  Humans can also test a dog's immunity by doing a titer test.  It will show you whether or not your dog needs another rabies booster.

The topic of vaccination is a tricky one - and honestly, I don't want to get into anything controversial.  Clearly, humans and dogs DO need protection against certain diseases and vaccinations CAN control the diseases.  We are fortunate here in Nova Scotia, that rabies is not rampant in wild animals.  In fact, the strain of rabies here is almost always limited to bats.  So if a bat swings down like Dracula and bites you, you should be prepared to get a rabies vaccine - if you don't already have one.

We boys haven't had a rabies vaccine- but we would need one if traveling out of the province.  My human would definitely vaccinate us if she felt there was a high likelihood that we could contract it.  Remember old Barney, her first dog who lived to 17.5?  He was vaccinated EVERY YEAR of his life.  By the time he was getting older, the new protocols for vaccinations were beginning to come out.   But she didn't want to STOP vaccinating him as clearly, it did not affect his longevity ( a fear by many pet owners).  She thought that stopping the vaccinations might jinx his good health.  Go figure.  By the time Barney went to the Rainbow Bridge, he could glow in the dark from all the vaccines he had had.  And our Vet was driving a shiny new car.

Anyway, today we thank Louis Pasteur for all of his work in vaccinations and in infectious diseases. As an aside, his work in vaccinations began after he sadly lost three young children to typhoid fever.  It's a story of sadness that led to discoveries in infectious diseases that have helped to save millions of lives.  It's called making lemonade from lemons.  And taking a bad thing to make something good.  Imagine what the world would be like if all humans took bad things and made good things...

Have a good one.

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