NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Hopefully, your pets are vaccinated against rabies. Americans are fairly good in following that practice.
Wednesday marked World Rabies Day, which focuses on the importance of education, vaccination and eradication of rabies around the world.
A rabies vaccination clinic in the Philippines, African nations, and places few people have heard of share the same goals as the rabies clinics right here at home. Dr. Chris Comer, a wildlife management professor at Stephen F. Austin State University, knows mass rabies vaccinations are important worldwide.
"There are tens of thousands of human fatalities from rabies because many of the lesser developed countries don't have a well-developed health system," Comer said. "They don't vaccinate their pets."
Comer's expertise is the study of wild animals in the U.S. that pose a risk of spreading rabies.
"Skunks, bobcats, coyotes," Comer said. "Medium size predators."
With the help of former graduate student Jason Lombardi, many of the mammals were found within the Nacogdoches city limits.
"We documented something like 80 individual coyotes within the city limit of Nacogdoches," Comer said. "Twenty bobcats, like 30 or 40 red foxes, several gray foxes, so they're around."
While they are potential carriers, it's not necessary to eradicate them to stop the spread of rabies. Vaccination of domestic animals is the key to controlling the disease.
"Ninety-nine percent of rabies fatalities worldwide result from dog bites," Comer said. "That's the way rabies gets exposure to people."
Rather than worry about the possibility of getting rabies, experts encourage you to be proactive. Discourage wild animals from your premises and vaccinate all domestic pets.
Effective vaccines against rabies have existed for over 100 years, yet it still takes the lives of an estimated 60,000 people each year.