On February 1, The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) issued an alert to area veterinarians that several rescue dogs for adoption or sale have been diagnosed with the rabies virus. New York City is the main port of entry for rescue dogs from other countries.
The cases of recently diagnosed rabies in New York City has revealed that many rescue dogs are entering the United States with intentionally falsified documentation, such as fake certificates of vaccination against the rabies virus.
Rabies is a deadly disease of the central nervous system found in all warm-blooded animals, including dogs, cats, and humans. The virus is spread primarily when an infected animal bites another animal or human. Rabies is incurable. After the onset of symptoms, the course of the disease results in fatality from paralysis leading to cardiac arrest or respiratory failure. In humans, unless an anti-rabies serum is administered within 24 hours after exposure to the virus, the course of the disease is irreversible.
According to the DOHMH alert, maintaining vaccination against rabies is required for all dogs and cats in New York City. “Any healthy pet dog or cat that has bitten or otherwise potentially exposed a person to rabies is required to be confined and observed by the owner for 10 days after the bite incident.”
Current information on rabies and animals testing positive for rabies in New York City is available on the Health Department Website (www.nyc.gov/health/rabies). Also available at the Website is additional information about rabies, including summary data for New York City and a downloadable brochure for pet owners.