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ASK THE EXPERTS

Annual 4-H rabies clinic set Saturday

POSTED: April 25, 2012 4:00 a.m.

Because of strict vaccination laws, rabies outbreaks have become much less prevalent since vaccination programs began in the 1940s.

However, this does not mean that rabies is no longer a threat in our community. According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, there were more than 6,000 reported cases of animal rabies, and two reported cases of rabies in humans in the United States in 2010.

Even last week, here in Dawson County, we had a confirmed case of a rabies-infected cow.

We need to remain vigilant about preventing the spread of rabies in our area.

Rabies is a viral infection that is spread through the saliva of infected animals. It is able to infect most mammals.

The virus affects the central nervous system of a host, causing symptoms such as convulsions and paralysis.

Rabies is almost always fatal in infected animals.

Because it is easily spread through saliva, the virus is commonly spread from wild animals to household pets by means of a bite.

However, bites are not the only means of transmission. Rabies has also been known to spread by other animal contact, such as scratches.

Common carriers of the virus in the wild are raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes and bats.

According to the United States Humane Society, there are two different forms of rabies. "Dumb rabies," the most common type, causes infected animals to wander around aimlessly.

Animals infected with this type will exhibit lethargy, lack of coordination and weakness in hind legs.

The better known type, "furious rabies," causes infected animals to self-mutilate and attack anything that moves.

The infamous "foaming at the mouth" associated with rabies infection is caused by paralysis of the throat, making the animal unable to swallow.

The best way to protect your pets from the rabies virus is to have them vaccinated annually.

Georgia law requires all home cats and dogs to be vaccinated each year.

The 4-H Rabies Clinic offers rabies vaccinations at low prices. Rabies shots for dogs or cats will cost $9. Other yearly vaccinations will also be available at affordable prices.

As in past years, we will employ the "drive by shooting" method for vaccinations.

When you pull into the parking lot you can leave your pets in the car and fill out your paperwork at the registration desk.

After registration you may return to your vehicle and drive to the vaccination area, where your pets will receive their shots in your car.

Best of all, proceeds from the Rabies Clinic will help fund camp scholarships and activities for the Dawson County 4-H Club.

The event is the main fundraising event for the 4-H program, and it has been vitally important in past years.

The 4-H program helps local school kids to become well-rounded individuals through participation in camps, projects, state government internships and many other character building events. Come out and help support a great cause, while helping to protect your pets at the same time.

For more information, contact the Dawson County Extension Office at (706) 265-2442.

Clark MacAllister is the Dawson County extension agent. For more information, call (706) 265-2442.

 

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