LAURINBURG — Local veterinary practices are offering rabies vaccinations at a reduced rate this month to protect pets from potentially infected wildlife.
Though the county has had only one positive rabies test since 2008 — returned in 2013 from a fox — pet owners are obligated to vaccinate all cats and dogs over four months of age per stat law.
In surrounding counties, Robeson County has had three raccoons test positive for rabies since 2014, with one in Hoke County. According to N.C. State Laboratory Public Health and N.C. Veterinary Public Health, 66 counties reported positive animal rabies cases in 2014, with a total of 352.
Unvaccinated pets bitten by an animal that is or might be rabid will either be quarantined for six months or euthanized at the health director’s discretion.
“Rabies is a deadly viral disease that attacks the central nervous system of warm-blooded animals, particularly mammals”, said Scotland County animal control officer Adam Liles. “The virus can infect domestic pets, agricultural animals such as cows and horses, and people when they are exposed to wildlife.”
Human cases of rabies reported in the United States have almost exclusively been linked to bats in recent years. As bats are small and quiet and their bites are usually painless, their bites sometimes go unnoticed. Anytime a bat is found in a room with a sleeping person, a young child, or anyone that is not capable of positively excluding even incidental contact with the bat, the bat should be tested for rabies if possible.
In North Carolina, raccoons are the animals most commonly diagnosed with rabies; however skunks, foxes and bats account for a significant number of cases as well. The domestic animal that is most commonly infected with rabies is the cat, especially cats kept outside that may prey on infected wildlife.
Residents are advised to be aware of the presence of rabid raccoons, foxes, skunks and bats in North Carolina and avoid wild or unfamiliar animals. Those bitten by an unfamiliar animal should vigorously scrub the wound, 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.
In Scotland County, three local veterinary offices will be offering rabies vaccinations throughout the month of April at a reduced rate of $10:
— Academy Animal Hospital, 11241 Andrew Jackson Highway, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m.to noon – by appointment only. For information, call 910-276-6068.
— Scotland Veterinary Hospital, 17860 U.S. 74, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and 3-5 p.m. For information, call 910-276-4400.
— X-Way Animal Hospital, 13041 X-Way Road, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 3-5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. The office is closed every first and third Saturday. For information call 910-276-5300.
For information, contact Adam Liles or Marc Brown, Animal Control Officers, Scotland County Health Department at 277-2470, Ext. 4432 or Ext. 4450.