KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Dogs and cats should still be vaccinated for rabies even though incidence of the disease is not as high in Tennessee as some states, Dr. Ralph Hall, University of Tennessee veterinarian, said Monday.
“It is a dreadful disease, but very preventable,” Hall said, adding that cats and dogs are equally susceptible to rabies.
Ninety-three cases of rabies in the wild were recorded in Tennessee in a recent survey compiled by the U.S. Center for Disease Control in Atlanta.
Hall said the report indicates Tennesseans should continue to have their dogs and cats vaccinated for rabies.
“Cats probably are not exposed as often because many of our housecats never get outdoors,” Hall said. “There is always the chance that a housecat will get outside or somehow come in contact with a wild animal. I recommend vaccination for all cats.”
The CDC report indicated that 82 of Tennessee’s 93 rabies cases occurred in skunks. Other carriers were bats and foxes.
Among Tennessee domestic animals, rabies occurred in three dogs, three cows and one horse during the survey period.
Hall said Tennessee reported no cases of rabies in raccoons, although neighboring North Carolina had 466 during 1995.
“There was an outbreak of raccoon rabies that started probably 10 years ago in the Carolinas and it has spread north since then into New York,” Hall said.
The most recent human death reported in Tennessee attributed to rabies was a Cumberland County woman in 1994.
“I don’t believe the bat was ever found, but tests indicated she had been infected with a form of the rabies virus that occurs in bats.”
Contact: Dr. Ralph Hall (423-974-5568)