Vaccine worries are spilling over to the world of pet ownership.
Roughly half of pet owners show some level of canine vaccine hesitancy, per a study published in the journal Vaccine. Specifically, 53% of the dog owners surveyed expressed some concerns about the efficacy, safety or necessity of vaccines for their pets. "We knew that canine vaccine hesitancy existed because of our anecdotal and lived in experiences. We didn't know how pervasive it was," Matt Motta, the primary author of the study, told Reuters.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, vaccine hesitancy has been on the rise. “I do think in this environment with the Covid vaccine and with everything that's going on ... it's starting to be getting projected on the pets," Todd Calsyn, a veterinarian at Laurel Pet Hospital in West Hollywood, told Reuters. Currently, the rabies vaccine is one of the only canine vaccine mandates in the U.S., as it has been instrumental in saving lives. The study found that the vaccine-hesitant people surveyed were, “six percent more likely to have an unvaccinated dog — and 27 percent more likely to oppose rabies vaccine mandates,” according to a statement by the report authors.
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Rabies still kills approximately 60,000 people per year globally. While numbers are low in the U.S., each year “hundreds of thousands of people are bitten by wild animals or dogs suspected to have the disease,” per the statement. If contracted, rabies has a 99% mortality rate. Vaccines are one of the only ways to prevent the disease from reaching humans. “If there are more unvaccinated dogs out there, the risk of disease transmission grows and likewise for veterinarian professionals,” said Motta. And “for all of us who may come into contact with unvaccinated pets, we are potentially at risk of getting sick."
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