May 3, 2002
HEALTH DEPARTMENT AND LOCAL VETERINARIANS
TEAM-UP TO OFFER LOW-COST RABIES VACCINATIONS
Charlotte, NC – Starting Monday, May 6, pet owners can get their animals’ rabies shots up-to-date for just $7.50. The Mecklenburg County Health Department is working with County veterinarians to offer the low-cost vaccinations during Rabies Vaccination Week, May 6-11. Pet owners are asked to call their veterinarian first to make an appointment.
Rabies can infect any mammal. In North Carolina it is most common in raccoons, skunks, and foxes, but has also been found in dogs, cats, horses, cattle, bats, and other animals. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of animals found to have rabies in North Carolina.
The virus is transmitted through contact with the saliva or nervous tissue of an infectious animal--usually through a bite. If an exposed person or animal is not treated quickly, the virus can be fatal. Rabies is almost always fatal to animals and people once signs of the disease appear. But, immediate treatment by a doctor after exposure, possibly including a post-exposure rabies vaccination, will prevent development of the disease.
Rabies was a major problem in North Carolina as well as much of the rest of the nation during the 1950s. In fact, the last time a person died from rabies in this state was in 1953 when a woman from Cherokee County was bitten by her own dog.
Only one dog in Mecklenburg County has been confirmed infected with rabies since 1957. That was a Mint Hill puppy back in February 2001. That puppy had come into contact with a rabid raccoon. Several dozen children and adults came into contact with the puppy and were treated for rabies as a precaution. None of the people who had handled the puppy exhibited any symptoms of rabies.
So far this year, there have been five reported cases of rabies in animals in Mecklenburg County. The most recent cases were reported in April.