At first I thought it was something of a hoax, a story cooked up by some obscure natural health magazine’s over-zealous reporters: “Dog rabies is gone!—a thing of the past,” it claims. Yeah, right.

Yet it’s seemingly true. ABC news on September 7th reported the CDC’s findings that canine rabies is off the radar in the US. That means the dog-specific form of the rabies virus appears to have been eradicated.

Now’s when you can pat yourself on the back. Because it’s your sacrifice that’s gotten us this far in the war against this pestilence. But don’t get too excited…

Your dog can still get rabies.

CDC evidence shows that your dog won’t be contracting the dog-specific rabies from another dog. And it also means your dog, conversely, can’t give the dog-specific rabies to another pooch. But wildlife? Raccoons, foxes and bats (the largest reservoirs for rabies in this country) can still give you, your cats and your dogs rabies. And your pets can, in turn, give you rabies after they’ve been infected by a frothy squirrel, for example.

Yep. It’s still a zombie movie out there. Remember, no one survives rabies (OK, except for one Wisconsin girl who had to be medically coma-tized to achieve her rare recovery). What’s worse, over 55,000 people worldwide die of the virus every year. Make no mistake: rabies is still widespread…and it’s vicious.

Nonetheless the eradication of this specific dog to dog strain in the US is an undisputable public health triumph. That’s because dog-specific rabies is the kind most likely to infect humans. There’s no doubt we’re much safer for our elimination of this bug.

Say what you want about the over-vaccination of pets (and you know I’ll join you—up to a point), but it’s aggressive vaccination programs that keep us safe from viruses like polio, rabies, smallpox and measles.

I’ve written quite a bit about these issues on this blog. (Just type “vaccine” or “vaccination” into the search bar if you want to know how many posts I’ve dedicated to the topic.) But I’ve seldom come to you with the gospel of vaccines. Here’s one time that I can finally come out and howl a hearty Amen! to the controversial cult of the vaccine.