Required by North Carolina law, the vaccination of pets against rabies is as important for animals as it is for humans.
Thanks to a joint-effort by the Scotland County Health Department and three county veterinary offices, rabies vaccination clinics will be offered throughout the month of April at a reduced rate.
According to Health Educator Kathie Cox of the Scotland County Health Department, instances of positive rabies tests have occurred in a number of surrounding counties.
Since 2012 Richmond and Robeson counties have each had a dog test positive and Hoke County has had a raccoon test positive for the disease.
“Those were just the ones that were actually tested,” Cox noted.
Cox reported that Scotland County has been “very fortunate” to have no positive rabies tests since August of 2008, however in 2012 a total of 71 North Carolina counties reported a total of 431 positive animal rabies cases.
And while it is commonly thought that the greatest risk of animal-to-human transmission of the virus is posed by a dog or cat bite, it is actually a much smaller creature responsible for nearly all human cases in recent years. It is bats that are “almost exclusively” responsible for human rabies cases in the United States, Cox stated.
“And because bats are small and quiet and their bites are usually painless, people don’t always realize when they have been bitten.”
Because of the often discreet nature of their bites, bats are also responsible for a large percentage of the total deaths due to rabies nationwide.
“Anytime a bat is found in a room with a sleeping person, a young child, or anyone that is not capable of (avoiding) … contact with the bat, the bat should be tested for rabies if possible,” Cox warned. If contact is likely to have been made with a bat, individuals are encouraged to contact their physician or health department to discuss the matter.
In North Carolina raccoons are the animal most commonly diagnosed with the virus, with skunks, foxes and bats also accounting for a significant number of cases. The Scotland County Health Department is advising residents to be aware of the presence of potentially diseased animals and to avoid them and wild or unfamiliar animals, where possible.
If bitten or otherwise exposed, a vigorous scrubbing of the wound is suggested, after which the victim should seek medical attention and call Scotland County Animal Control to capture the animal for testing.
“Since rabies is incurable and most always fatal once signs appear, any exposure to rabies should be acted upon quickly,” Cox cautioned.
For information contact Scotland County Animal Control Officers Larry Herring or Adam Liles at 277-2470, extensions 4432 and 4450.
Rabies Vaccination Clinics:
Academy Animal Hospital (Dr. Brian Schillig and Megan Mack) US 74 West, Laurinburg, NC
Clinics will be held at the veterinarian’s office Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until noon. For additional information call 276-6068.
Scotland Veterinary Hospital (Dr. M. M. Labib) 17860 US 74, Laurinburg, NC
Clinic hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until noon and from 3-5 p.m. The office is closed on Saturday. For additional information call 276-4400.
X-Way Animal Hospital (Dr. Olivia Guzman) 13041 X-Way Road, Laurinburg, NC
Clinic hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 3-5:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. The office is closed every first and third Saturday. For additional information call 276-5300.