Rabies are a viral disease of warm-blooded animals; therefore, it also concerns us, humans. It attacks the nervous system and often ends in death. It is transmitted through infected saliva. Most often, it happens because of biting but it can also be transmitted by scratching. The symptoms might show up within several days up to several months. They include the changes in behaviour, aggressiveness and uncontrollable spasms. It always ends in death.
In the Czech Republic, it is considered to be eradicated for 17 years already. However, there is still a risk of its recurrence and the monitoring of this disease is still going on. As part of it, wild animals such as foxes in which the infection is most common are tested. The last detected case of rabies in the Czech Republic comes from 2002 and in this case, it also affected a fox. Among pets, the last case concerned a cat a year before that. We were officially and internationally declared a rabies-free country in 2004.
However, rabies was still common and spread across the whole territory of the Czech Republic in 1980s. It was possible to eradicate it mainly because of oral vaccination of foxes which was intensive between 1989 and 2009. On the World Rabies Day, we shouldn’t forget to mention the name of a Czech scientist, Oldřich Matouch, who, as the only Czech so far, was awarded a prestigious prize by OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) for his services to the veterinary community for the above-mentioned vaccination programme.
Even though this dangerous, fatal disease no longer occurs in the Czech Republic, an obligation to vaccinate not only dogs but also foxes and badgers kept in captivity is still in place. Also, an animal that hurt a person needs to be taken to the vet on the 1st day after the incident and on the 5th day as well. Vets check thousands of animals every year because of that.
Besides the developing countries, rabies is also a current threat in some European countries within the EU. It mainly concerns the countries with large numbers of stray dogs. Due to this reason, the State Veterinary Administration also warns against bringing home homeless dogs of an unknown origin from abroad. It could be easily spread by this again.
The European Commission plans to eradicate rabies across the whole EU until 2030. We can only hope that this plan will work out which is in our interest as well as it the interest of others and it will never come back.