Rabies cases have been increasing this year as compared to the last several years. To combat this issue, rabies clinics around the world are offering free vaccinations. According to “Hudson Valley News,” on Sunday, June 12, 2016, Westchester County in New York provided residents with access to free rabies shots for ferrets, cats, and dogs. Westchester residents needed to make appointments for their pets between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
In some parts of the world, June is considered “Rabies Awareness Month,” which allows clinics to focus on educating their local communities on the proper prevention techniques. The Malawi News Agency claims that in Blantyre, there is a month-long campaign, which focuses on the prevention of the disease through vaccinations in order to protect the region’s pets and livestock. Blantyre will allow their clinics to offer free educational information and vaccinations throughout the month.
IOL has stated that in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is providing free rabies vaccinations at various locations across the region. These animal clinics are offering free vaccinations to eliminate the danger to humans, because once the pet and livestock populations are vaccinated, there is a slim chance any humans will contract the disease. All too often, people around the world choose to not vaccinate their pets, which is especially true when the cases of rabies have been low for several years in a row.
WTVY reports that as of June 2016, there have been seven confirmed cases in Houston County, Alabama, which is higher than the number of their 2014 and 2015 cases combined, which was four. It is believed the increase is due to the fact the disease is cyclical, which leads to the virus having more severe seasons every couple of years. Houston County Environmental Supervisor Doug Turnbull affirms the county normally has five to six cases each year, which, once again, proves how much worse this situation is in 2016, with seven confirmed cases by June.
Turnbull also reminded the residents of Alabama about the importance of getting all pets vaccinated, but was also sure to focus on the fact that these vaccinations for pets are not a request, but are the law. The laws related to all diseases change around the world, as well as vary between different states in the United States. It is clear vaccinations are the key to prevent the spread of the disease, but it is also important to educate people on the dangers of the disease, and how it affects the human and animal bodies.
At New York clinics, it was required that cats and ferrets be confined to pet carriers, and all dogs were required to be leashed. This is a mandate because rabies is defined as a fatal disease and is spread through direct contact with infected saliva or from bites from infected animals. In general, the most common wild animal carriers of rabies include foxes, bats, raccoons, and skunks. These animals are quite common, and, in many cases, are too small to detect before sneaking up on an unsuspecting child or pet while outdoors.
It is this reality which makes vaccinations essential to survival. In New York, all pets must receive their first rabies shot when they are no older than four months of age, and their second within a year of the first shot. Once the animal is an adult, rabies booster shots only need to occur in one- to three-year intervals. Failure to follow these rules will result in a fine of up to $2,000.
Animal clinics offer free vaccinations every year, so it is important to check with local veterinarians or SPCAs to get up-to-date information on upcoming free clinics or events. The best way to protect families from the various health issues, which are more prevalent during the warmer months of the year, is through prevention.
By Kristina Lasher
WTVY: Rabies Cases Climbing
IOL: Free vaccines ‘to halt rabies cases’
Malawi News Agency: Malawi to Launch 2016 Rabies Campaign Month
Hudson Valley News Network: Free Rabies Clinic in Cortlandt Manor
Image Courtesy of CDC Global’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License