Week set aside for rabies shots
The traditional county rabies vaccination day has gone the way of the Model T.
Instead of Morgan County veterinarians traveling to various locations around the county for short one-day rabies vaccination clinics this year, the veterinarians will offer $8 rabies vaccinations at their offices. Vaccinations will be offered June 3-8.
The week-long effort is part of the state-wide Rabies Awareness Week and Dog Bite Prevention Week designed to increase the number of dogs and cats inoculated against the deadly disease.
According to Dr. Dawn Monroe of Decatur several factors played into the decision to make the change.
"People would forget that it was vaccination Saturday, so we wanted to offer more of an opportunity for people to get their animals' shots," she said.
Having the ability to address other needs for the animals by being at their own offices played in the decision too, Monroe said.
"There were liability issues in going out to the locations," Monroe said.
Having residents bring their animals in during a whole week allows veterinarians to provide patrons with the most current informational material and avoids the problems of animals getting loose and reduces the possibilities of bites at the clinic, she said.
"We are hoping people will bring in whole pick-up loads of dogs for vaccination," Monroe said.
Rabies is a disease of warm-blooded animals, including man that is universally fatal if not treated immediately.
Raccoons, bats, foxes and skunks are most responsible for spreading the virus that causes rabies to domestic animals and humans. Immunization of domestic animals provides the only "buffer" between wildlife and humans.
With summer months just around the corner, officials are urging people to make sure their pets' shots are up to date and to use caution when they encounter a wild animal.
Parents should warn children not to touch, pick up or feed wild or unfamiliar animals. Everyone should avoid sick or strange acting animals, such as those that appear friendly, docile or approach humans.
Nocturnal animals, such as raccoons and bats that become active in the daytime should be avoided.
In recent years the number of animal bites and possible exposure to rabies investigated by the county health departments has been on the rise. Bites jumped from 151 in1999 to 204 in 2000 in Morgan County.
In 1999, the last year statistics are available for, the estimated dog population in Morgan County was more than 23,000, of which nearly 57 percent were vaccinated. Of a cat population of 19,000 only 45 percent were vaccinated.