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Crenshaw County Animal Clinic to hold county wide rabies clinics

While many may think that rabies isn’t as prevalent in society today as it used to be, Dr. Alethea Gammage, veterinarian at Crenshaw Animal Clinic, warns the county that this problem is alive and kicking still.

With this in mind, the Crenshaw Animal Clinic will begin its annual county wide rabies clinics over the next few months.

“We’ve been doing this for years. All over the state we have rabies clinics, and that’s how we hopefully can cover a large population of these pets,” Gammage said.

“It’s a law that any animal, inside or outside, has to be vaccinated, if it’s not then it could be a source of infection.”

Animals must be at least three months old to receive the vaccination.

So far in 2016, there have been no reported rabies-induced attacks in the area, but Gammage is confident that this statistic will not remain the same as the year progresses.

“We haven’t had any attacks for 2016 yet, but we probably will. There are usually several per year,” Gammage said.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, there are two different strains of rabies virus in Alabama: the raccoon variant and the bat variant. The raccoon strain can infect other wildlife, such as foxes, coyotes and skunks; but more importantly, it can infect people’s pets.

Vaccinations for other species, such as horses and livestock are also available and recommended. Vaccinating animals helps ensure protection should they unknowingly be exposed to a rabid animal.

Other simple prevention methods are to keep pets properly confined or on leashes, avoid leaving trash or leftover pet food uncovered, which may attract wildlife and avoid handling bats.

The bat variant can also infect pets or people. Bats present a unique risk of rabies because their bites may be unknown or leave insignificant marks. If you should have bats in your house, please contact your physician or local health department for consultation.

Gammage warns the citizens of Crenshaw County of the dangers of having unvaccinated pets, and urges all in the county to attend the upcoming rabies clinics offered around the county.

Rabies is a deadly viral disease that infects the brain and spinal cord of mammals. The virus is spread from exposure to saliva or nervous tissue from an infected animal, usually through a bite. Scratches or saliva contact with a mucous membrane are also considered as exposure risks. Rabies is preventable if proper treatment is given before symptoms occur, but is fatal once symptoms are present.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the first symptoms of rabies may resemble the common flu. The symptoms, which include general weakness or discomfort, fever or headache, may last for days.

There may also be discomfort or a prickling or itching sensation at the site of bite, progressing within days to symptoms of cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion and agitation. The virus infects the central nervous system. As the disease progresses, the person may experience delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations and insomnia.

Gammage encourages younger children to be cautious when interacting with stray animals, and frequently holds seminars to educate them on signs to recognize potentially hazardous animals.

“I like to start educating them when they’re young so they understand the importance of that. They need to know that rabies isn’t just something that came along with ‘Old Yeller.’ It’s still around here,” she said.

A full schedule of these clinics can be found on page 10. The cost per vaccination will be $10. Gammage requests that all cats be contained in carriers and all dogs leashed.