Local News

April 27, 2011

Reduced-fee rabies clinic in Whitfield in May

The Whitfield County reduced rabies vaccination clinic will be held Saturday, May 7, with reduced fees of $10 per cat or dog vaccinated.

“We have been doing this reduced rabies vaccination clinic since the 70s to help the public protect themselves and their pets against rabies,” said veterinarian Dr. Chris Stearns. “We have kept the low price of $10 per cat or dog vaccinated to encourage everyone to have their pets vaccinated. The rabies shots at the clinics are valid throughout the United States, so pet owners in northwest Georgia and Tennessee are welcome to bring their animals if they wish.

“We want to urge people to bring their cats in, also,”  he continued. “At our clinic we have had a rabid kitten, and in neighboring counties cats infected with rabies are on the rise. Cats are at great risk of contracting rabies because of their hunting instincts and chances of coming into contact with a rabid animal. It is important that both cats and dogs be vaccinated against rabies. The kitten we had with rabies resulted in about a dozen people having to have painful rabies shots, including a 3-year-old child.”

“There is no excuse for not having cats and dogs vaccinated against rabies,” said Whitfield County rabies control officer Diane Franklin. “It is just such an important health issue. Rabies is deadly to humans and animals, and we are seeing more cats and dogs with rabies in our area now.”

According to Jon Klepper, environmental health manager with the Northwest Georgia Public Health District, we are well on pace to exceed any rabies numbers we have had in the past.

Rabies is transmitted by raccoons, skunks, foxes, wolves and coyotes — and the No. 1 rabies carrier is bats. Our pets, cats and dogs, are our barrier between us and these animals. Should an infected animal bite a cat or dog that has not been vaccinated, it will contract the disease and then could spread it to other animals, and a more serious threat, to humans.

While rabies is rare in the U.S. because of strict vaccination laws, worldwide there are about 55,000 cases annually, with a death rate of nearly 100 percent.

The virus shows no symptoms for one to three months. The infected person then begins to have flu-like symptoms — headache, fever, muscle aches, fatigue and loss of appetite. Within four days they become confused and hallucinate and begin to have muscle spasms. Finally, hydrophobia (fear of water) begins … the final stage of rabies. At this point death is inevitable.

Shots are now available for rabies victims, given in five shots over a month-long period. However, they must be given before any symptoms occur.

Franklin said a significant increase in coyotes and raccoons raises the danger of rabies.

“That is why rabies shots for dogs and cats are so important,” she said. “The reduced rate rabies vaccination clinic is May 7, 2011. Local veterinarians will be at various locations throughout Whitfield County, and our office strongly recommends that everyone have their cat or dog vaccinated. It is Georgia state law, and with the reduced rate of $10 per animal, it is affordable for everyone.”

Participating are Dalton Animal Care, Animal Hospital of Whitfield County, Higdon Animal Hospital and the Whitfield County Animal Shelter.

“We are glad to provide this service to the community,” said Stearns. “With rabies in Whitfield County and in nearby counties, we are at great risk for a rabies outbreak. For just $10 you can protect your family and your pet from rabies. We urge everyone who has a cat or dog to have them vaccinated at one of the clinics May 7.”

Other vaccines for dogs and cats will also be available on request. Dogs must be on a leash and cats in a pet carrier. Locations and times are:

• Dug Gap Elementary — Noon to 1 p.m.

• Valley Point Elementary —1:15 to 2:30 p.m.

• Phoenix Center behind Eastside Elementary —3 to 4 p.m.

• Pleasant Grove Elementary —11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

• Varnell Elementary —12:15 to 2 p.m.

• Cohutta Elementary —2:15 to 3 p.m.

• Dawnville United Methodist —3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

• Beaverdale Superette —5 to 5:45 p.m.

• Northwest Whitfield High —Noon to 12:45 p.m.

• Tunnel Hill Elementary —1 to 2 p.m.

• Rocky Face Baptist —2:15 to 2:45 p.m.

• Westside Elementary —3 to 5 p.m.

• Whitfield County Animal Shelter —Noon to 5 p.m.

For more information call Franklin at (706) 278-2018.

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