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OLYMPIA, Wash. - Starting Sunday, rabies vaccines will be mandatory for pet dogs, cats and ferrets in Washington state.

The Department of Health says every year in Washington, several hundred people have to get the series of rabies shots because of possible exposure to the rabies virus.

While many cities and counties require rabies vaccinations for some pets, vaccinations have never been required by the state. The new rule was passed by the Board of Health this summer and takes effect on New Year's Day, says Donn Moyer of the Washington Health Department.

Bats are the primary source of rabies in Washington state, according to state officials who say that pet encounters with sick bats are a primary way that pets can be exposed to rabies.

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