Virginia Veterinary Medical Association Announces 2013 Rabies Awareness Week

Veterinary Association Sponsors Statewide Rabies Awareness Week

Richmond, VA, September 14, 2013 --( The Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA) has partnered with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to sponsor a statewide effort to raise rabies awareness, during a week-long observance to take place Monday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 29. Each year, the two organizations join forces to sponsor Rabies Awareness Week and bring attention to the deadly disease, which is caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Throughout the week, VVMA and VDH will promote guidelines to prevent families and pets from being exposed to rabies, offer educational opportunities to learn more about the destructive virus, and encourage veterinarians to communicate the dangers of rabies with patient families and others in the veterinary medicine community.

Dr. Julia Murphy, State Public Health Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Health, recently recorded a podcast discussing rabies awareness and prevention. In the podcast, Dr. Murphy discusses how rabies is spread, how the disease is treated, and the preventive measures available for both humans and animals to safeguard against this disease. As Dr. Murphy explains in the podcast, rabies is a deadly but preventable disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. A disease of mammals, rabies is most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. She also explains that rabies is most commonly found in Virginia’s wildlife; however, it is important to remember that any mammal can get rabies. In the state of Virginia in particular, approximately 10 percent of animals diagnosed with rabies annually are domestic animals such as dogs and cats.

For tips on preventing this deadly disease and to hear additional information from Dr. Murphy, be sure to download the podcast at VVMA will also promote 2013 Rabies Awareness Week throughout September on its Facebook and Twitter accounts. To follow along with VVMA’s conversation on Twitter, be sure to follow them at @VirginiaVMA and #VAFightsRabies. For more information about rabies and Rabies Awareness Week, visit

“One of the best ways people can protect themselves and their animal from rabies is to have their veterinarian vaccinate their pet and keep those vaccinations up to date,” said Dr. Murphy. “Vaccinating domestic animals like dogs, cats and horses creates a protective barrier between wildlife and people, so if we protect our pets we are also protecting ourselves. If you think you or your pet may have been exposed to rabies, please contact your local health department or animal control agency for guidance right away.”

“In 2012, the Virginia Department of Health reported the state of Virginia had a total of 560 confirmed cases of animal rabies,” said Robin R. Schmitz, executive director of the VVMA. “Each year, we partner with the Virginia Department of Health to inform the public on the dangers of rabies, its destructive impact and prevention methods. The potential for exposure to rabies or a rabid animal exists statewide, and it is critical that all residents of Virginia, whether pet owners or not, understand the severity of this disease.”

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About The Virginia Veterinary Medical Association:
The Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA) is a professional organization of veterinarians dedicated to preserving and enhancing the quality of human and animal life through veterinary medicine. The organization aims to establish and enhance open communication between members of the association and industry representatives. The VVMA provides continuing education programs and conferences, supports its members through mentoring programs, lobbies on behalf of the interests in the field of veterinary medicine and serves as an advocate and voice for the Virginia veterinary medicine community. For more information, visit, or call (800) 937-8862 or (804) 346-2611.
Virginia Veterinary Medical Association
Kathleen Donnelly