Warmer weather doesn’t mean an increase in rabies cases in the wild, but it does mean both people and animals are out and about more and can come in contact with the virus.
For that reason the Richmond County Health Department is holding a rabies vaccination clinic at four locations next month.
Richmond County Environmental Health Supervisor Mike Norton said there are more reported cases of rabies during the warmer months, but “that’s not necessarily because of a higher prevalence of the virus.” As for people being bitten by animals, Norton said you don’t really see an upswing with warmer temperatures.
“It’s because people are usually more active, and the animals are too,” Norton said. “You’ve got the animals running around, and people are out and about in the woods, so you’ll see more reports coming in. They’re pretty steady all year round and, of course, we go out and investigate them all.”
North Carolina state law requires that all dog and cats four months of age and older be vaccinated against rabies each year. If your pet is found without a current rabies tag on its collar it will be subject to impoundment by Richmond County Animal Control.
Veterinarians will be at Ellerbe Lions Park from 4 - 5 p.m. and Cordova Fire and Rescue-Old Cheraw Hwy from 5:30 - 6:00 p.m. on May 6. On May 7 they will be at the Hamlet Fire Department from 4 - 5 p.m. and the Richmond County Health Department from 5:15 - 6:15 p.m. The cost is $6.
Scotland County Environmental Health Specialist Danny Sprouse said there have been no rabies cases reported so far this year.
“Rabies is present in North Carolina, there have been previous rabies cases reported in Richmond County,” said Dr. Tommy Gerald, director of the Richmond County Health Department. “We don’t want any one person exposed to rabies or their pets and the best way to prevent that is to have your pet vaccinated.”
Larry Herring of Scotland County Animal Control said there were only two cases of rabies reported in 2009. Both were unvaccinated cats.
“If a person or animal is infected the person or animal would have to be quarantined, or have the animal voided at the owner’s expense,” says Gerald. “That could result in thousands of dollars and insurance may not cover it or at least not the full cost. We are encouraging all pet owners to get their pets vaccinated.”
In Scotland County they don’t offer a rabies clinic, but encourage owners to use their regular veterinarian to vaccinate their pet every year in the month of April at a reduced cost of $7.
“This way there won’t be a chance of lost records and you know who has vaccinated your pet. Also the numbers of pets vaccinated usually doubles in April,” said Herring.
The vaccine that will be used at all clinics and animal hospitals is in accordance with the North Carolina State Rabies Law. Dogs should be on leashes and cats in carrying cages.
Hollie Nivens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 910-997-3111 ext. 19