03/16/14 — Rabies clinics planned for April

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Rabies clinics planned for April

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 16, 2014 1:50 AM

The handful cases of rabies reported annually in Wayne County tend to spike in spring and summer when people and their pets are out more often, said Vicki Falconer, Wayne Country Animal Control director.

To help better protect pets, and people, the agency will sponsor two Saturday rabies vaccination clinics in April.

The first offering will be April 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Eastern Wayne High School, followed by a second opportunity from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Southern Wayne High School at Dudley.

The second clinic will be April 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Grantham Supply True Value Hardware at Grantham and from 1 to 3 p.m. at the old Pikeville School in Pikeville.

The cost will be $10 per vaccination. Both one-year and three-year shots will be available.

However, for a dog or cat to receive the three-year shot, the owner must provide proof that the animal is current on its shots, Mrs. Falconer said.

If the record cannot be substantiated, a one-year shot will be administered.

State law requires that all dogs and cats over the age of four months receive the vaccination.

Stray or unwanted animals will not be accepted during the clinics.

All mammals are susceptible to rabies and it is nearly always fatal. It can be prevented in humans with timely and appropriate treatment, Mrs. Falconer said.

Rabies most often occurs in wild animals especially skunks, raccoons, bats and foxes. It is also found in beavers, coyotes, wolves and groundhogs.

It also can affect pet and agricultural animals including horses and cows.

In North Carolina, and across the country, cats are the most commonly infected domestic animal. One reason is that cats tend to be kept unsupervised outside where they might prey on infected animals.

The disease affects the central nervous system, ultimately causing death.

The disease is transmitted to people by the bite of a rabid animal or when a person comes into contact with the saliva or brain/nervous system tissue of the animal by handling a pet that has been attacked by a rabid animal.

"For 2014, we have not had any (rabies) cases yet that I am aware of," Mrs. Falconer said.

The summer months tend to have more reported cases, she said. In 2013, two cases were reported in May and then another three or four between June and August.

According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, along with the two cats, rabies was found in three raccoons last year in the county. Overall, 4,314 animals were tested for rabies statewide resulting in 380 positive cases.

Raccoons accounted for most of the positive results, 204, followed by foxes, 62, skunks, 55, bats, 28, cats, 20, dogs, five, cows, four, and goats, two.

Once a suspected rabid animal is picked up, the center holds it for 10 days, Mrs. Falconer said. If it has rabies, the animal is normally dead within three days.

People are often warned that wild animals seen in the daylight might be infected, but that is not necessarily the case, sometimes wild animals are just naturally seen during the day, she said. Foaming at the mouth is another sign that might not be a sign, she added. If a dog is overexcited, it can exhibit a similar-looking foaming and not be infected.

What is of more concern is an animal that is not easily frightened off, or one that charges toward a person, Mrs. Falconer said. Also, since rabies causes paralysis, people need to notice if the animal appears to have difficulty walking.

People who come in contact with suspected rabid animals should contact Mrs. Falconer's office at 919-731-1439.

For anyone who is bitten or scratched by any animal, it is recommended that the wound be cleaned out with soap and running water and that a doctor be contacted.

Write down the location of the animal and a description to provide to animal control to help in the animal's capture.

People should not attempt to capture the animal.