Drought increases Bay-Area rabies risk

Courtesy Humane Society International

SAN MATEO (KRON) — Officials in San Mateo are launching a campaign to bring awareness to the heightened risk of rabies due to the crippling California drought.

The rabies virus is transmitted through saliva, and as pets and humans spend more time outdoors during summer months, the risks of a rabid bite is much higher.  And the drought is drawing many wild animals closer to houses as they look for water, which puts pets and people at greater risk, according to health officials.


“Show your love for your pets by making sure they are vaccinated against rabies,” said Dr. Julia Wang-Lewis, one of the County’s veterinarians. “Getting your pets vaccinated is the only way to protect them and the entire community against rabies, which is 100% fatal in animals and usually fatal in people if not treated right away.”

Rabies occurs naturally in California. In 2014, 178 rabid animals were identified, including 2 cats and a dog. The rabies virus is always circulating in some San Mateo County wildlife populations and can be transmitted from wildlife to our pets and to us.

“Think about how many people one infected dog can come into contact with during one afternoon outside—now all those people are at risk,” said County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow. “We all have a responsibility to our pets, our families and each other to make sure our pets are protected and cannot spread rabies, which while 100% fatal in pets, is also 100% preventable.”

Residents should also avoid contact with unfamiliar animals.

For more information, visit smchealth.org/rabies.


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