From the Harford County Health Department:
Continuing its efforts to draw attention to the threat of rabies to humans and their pets, the Harford County Health Department is collaborating once again this year with international rabies experts and a local business in Forest Hill to offer a low cost Rabies Vaccination Clinic for Harford County pet owners in commemoration of World Rabies Day.
For the fourth consecutive year, this popular public health outreach initiative will take place at 4 Paws Spa and Training Center, Inc. located at 121 A Industry Lane in the Forest Hill on Saturday, September 24th from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Upon entering the airpark, signs will direct the public to the clinic.
Veterinarians at the Health Department-sponsored clinic will vaccinate dogs, cats, and ferrets for the very low cost of $5.00 per animal. However, only around 300 doses/tags will be available that day. Dog, cat, and ferret owners who wish to protect their pets from this dreaded disease are invited to participate and take advantage of this service while vaccine supplies last. In addition to the vaccinations, information will be available, as well as special rates on “wash and dry” self-service for pet owners through 4 Paws Spa and Training Center, Inc.
David Reiher, Harford County Health Department Rabies and Vector Control Program Coordinator, states, “Rabies vaccinations for dogs, cats, and ferrets are required by Maryland state law and we are delighted to continue offering this clinic to the public. It is another opportunity for pet owners who are unable to take advantage of our spring rabies vaccination clinics to vaccinate their dog, cat, or ferret for a very low cost.“
Robin Greenwood, proprietor of 4 Paws Spa and Training Center, Inc. adds, “We are excited to continue this partnership with the Health Department to bring this low cost vaccination clinic to the public. The pet industry, veterinarians, and government agencies all agree that rabies prevention starts with the animal owner.” Directions to and additional information about services offered by their facility can be obtained on-line at www.4pawsspaonline.com .
Between January 1st and July 31st of this year, the Health Department has identified 11 rabies positive animals, including 8 raccoons, 2 foxes, and 1 bat. Also this past summer, the Health Department has responded to increased bat activity in the county, having been contacted by more individuals and communities than usual that experienced bat encounters and colonization of bats in the attic area of their homes and apartments. Mr. Reiher reminds the public, “Bats entering living spaces can present a possible risk of rabies exposure to people and pets. The best personal protection from possible contact is to prevent bats from entering your home, a process we call ‘exclusion.’ The best protection for your pet is vaccination.”
Founded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Alliance for Rabies Control, a UK charity, the World Rabies Day initiative aims to bring together relevant partners in an effort to address rabies prevention and control through coordinated pet vaccination efforts and educational awareness focusing on proper wound management and administration of rabies vaccination after an exposure has occurred.
“We cannot let our guard down with rabies,” warns Health Officer Susan Kelly. “It is a disease that is ever-present in wildlife and that presents a potential risk both to pets and humans. We need to emphasize to the public the importance of not placing their pets at risk for a rabies exposure even if they consider theirs ‘an indoor pet only.’ By partnering with a local business and with people virtually worldwide towards a common goal, we have an opportunity to highlight rabies prevention and control efforts in our county while reducing costs to pet owners.”
Statistics demonstrating the impact of rabies on public health include:
• 55,000 deaths worldwide annually (approximately one person every ten minutes)
• Approximately 7,000 cases of animal rabies in the U.S. annually. These animals, mostly wildlife, can expose humans or pets to rabies.
• 1-3 cases of human rabies in the U.S. per year.
• The last reported case of human rabies in Maryland was in 1976 as the result of an exposure to an infected bat.
It is estimated that every year 30,000-40,000 US residents are potentially exposed to rabies, requiring costly and uncomfortable human rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. Post exposure treatment requires administration of Human Rabies Immune Globulin (HRIG) and four vaccinations over the course of two weeks, costs of which might not be covered by health insurance.
Additional information is available online at www.harfordcountyhealth.com/rabies , http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/Epidemiology/Epidemiology.htm#Wild%20Animals and www.worldrabiesday.org or by contacting David Reiher, Harford County Health Department, Rabies and Vector Control Program, at 410-877-2315