The disease remains in our wildlife, especially raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Although its frequency is minimal, and some even mistakenly believe it has been all but eliminated, these advancements didn’t happen by accident and certainly not overnight.
Medical research and veterinary care have made significant progress in controlling the illness which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as “...a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal.”
CDC specifies the rabies virus “... infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death.”
Early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to many other illnesses such as fever, headache, general weakness and discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing and hydrophobia, which is defined as a fear of water. Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.
In a former day and time, rabies was a legitimate fear. Although the threat still exists, its frequency is strategically lessened by maintaining a barrier between wildlife and pets. This is another way of saying do not allow domestic pets to roam unsupervised, especially in areas where they are most likely to come into contact with wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. And do keep pets vaccinated.
To help protect pets and their owners, Cleveland and Bradley County veterinarians are teaming to again provide the annual Rabies Clinics that will be hosted in a variety of locations on five different days. The clinic dates, times and locations were published last week in our newspaper. We will repeat them here for the convenience of pet owners, and because the first series of clinics is set for Tuesday (tomorrow).
The schedule follows:
1. Tuesday, April 24: From 6 to 7 p.m., the locations and attending veterinarians include Bellefonte Baptist Church, Dr. Karen Tinkle; Blue Springs Elementary School, Dr. Lee Bancroft; and Candies Creek Baptist Church, Dr. Oscar Wilson.
2. Thursday, April 26: From 6 to 7 p.m., the locations and vets include McDonald Post Office, Dr. Shelia Connelly; Charleston Fire Hall, Dr. Meredith Owens; Oak Grove Elementary School, Dr. Mitchell Jordan; and Valley View Elementary School, Dr. Ron Stewart.
3. Tuesday, May 1: From 6 to 7 p.m., the locations and vets will be Michigan Avenue Elementary School, Dr. Amanda Roddy; Waterville Elementary School, Dr. Howard Hamilton; and Black Fox Elementary School, Dr. Brad Huttenhoff.
4. Thursday, May 3: From 6 to 7 p.m., the locations and vets are Taylor Elementary School, Dr. Bill Moore; Blythe-Bower Elementary School, Dr. Bryan Bancroft; E.L. Ross Elementary School, Dr. Bart Bain; and Prospect Elementary School, Dr. R.S. Thompson.
5. Saturday, May 5: From 2 to 3 p.m., the locations and vets will be Cleveland Animal Shelter, Dr. James Lane; Charleston Fire Hall, Dr. Greg Miller; and Parkview Elementary School, Dr. Sally Poston.
Rabies today is rare, but it is not extinct.
Getting pets vaccinated at reduced rates on any of these Rabies Clinics dates could save lives — those of our much beloved pets and their owners.