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Worcester to hold rabies vaccination clinics in October

(Sept. 28, 2012) Pet owners, mark your calendars to take advantage of the inexpensive rabies vaccinations clinics offered this fall by the Worcester County Health Department and Animal Control. These will be the last clinics offered this year.

Rabies is a dangerous fatal disease and ongoing problem in the county. As of Sept. 13, the county has reported 15 laboratory-confirmed cases of rabies. Thirteen of the cases were raccoons, one was a fox and one was a groundhog. The county also reported 14 suspected cases of rabies (raccoons and foxes), which means the animal or contact was indicative of rabies, but the animal was not tested.

People and animals can be infected by the virus if they are exposed to the saliva of an infected animal. Low-cost rabies clinics are offered to help residents protect their dogs, cats and ferrets.

There will be three clinics in October. Each is from 5:30-7 p.m.

¦ Wednesday, Oct. 3, at Stockton Fire Hall, routes 12 and 366

¦ Thursday, Oct. 4, Showell Fire Hall, Route 575 (Old Route 113)

¦ Wednesday, Oct. 24, Worcester County Animal Control on Timmons Road in Snow Hill

The cost for a rabies vaccination is $5 per pet for Worcester County residents and $10 per pet for non-residents. Proof of residency is required. Vaccinations are available for dogs, cats and ferrets.

If this is not the pet’s first rabies vaccination, written proof of the previous shot in the form of a rabies certificate must be provided in order to receive a three-year booster shot. Otherwise, a one-year shot will be given.

To receive a vaccination, dogs must be on a leash. Cats and ferrets must be in a carrier or box with air holes.

Keeping pets’ required rabies vaccinations current is the best way to prevent the spread of rabies.

For more information on the clinics or to report animal bites or possible rabies exposures to pets from wild animals contact the Worcester County Health Department at 410-352-3234 or 410-641-9559. If an incident occurs after normal business hours, contact your local law enforcement or the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.

The clinics are held soon after World Rabies Day, Sept. 28. So far in 2012, there have been 225 laboratory confirmed cases reported statewide. These animals, mostly wildlife, can expose humans or pets to rabies. Raccoons are the most common animals found to be rabid, but others frequently identified are foxes, skunks, bats and cats.

The health department recommends the following tips to protect pets and family members from rabies exposure. nKeep current vaccinations dogs, cats, horses and ferrets, and keep those vaccinations current. If the expiration date of the vaccination is unknown, call the vet to check. n Do not let pets roam free. They are more likely to have contact with a rabid animal if they roam free. n Avoid feeding animals outside because this draws stray and wild animals. If pets must feed outdoors, do not leave food out overnight and clean up any spillage. n Securely cover garbage cans. n Avoid sick animals and those acting in an unusual manner, and teach children not to approach wild animals or animals they don’t know. nIf a pet has contact with wild animal, avoid touching the pet with bare hands by wearing gloves or wrapping hands in plastic bags. Do not touch the animal directly. Report the incident immediately to the health department or your local law enforcement regarding the testing of the wild animal. Consult a veterinarian.

For more information about rabies, visit http://worcesterhealth.org.

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