MANSFIELD — Warmer weather means more outdoor activities and that increases the risk of contact with an animal infected with the rabies virus. Incidences of rabies exposure usually start in April and continue rising through the summer months.
Richland Public Health is issuing a reminder for all pet owners to make sure their cats and dogs are vaccinated against rabies. Keeping vaccinations up-to-date for all cats and dogs is important not only to keep your pets from getting rabies, but also to provide a barrier of protection for you if a rabid wild animal bites your pet.
To encourage the immunization of dogs and cats, Drs. Henry Akers, Jody Akers and Laurie Hickox will be conducting a free rabies vaccine immunization clinic, Saturday, May 11. The clinic will be held at the Richland County Fairgrounds between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. (see attached flyer on clinic procedures or go to www.richlandhealth.org).
“Last year we had 830 contacts [inspections, investigations or consultations] concerning rabies,” said Joe Harrod, Director of Environmental Health at Richland Public Health. That number was a 23 percent increase over the previous year. “Dogs are the most frequent investigation calls, but we have more risk factors associated with feral cats and wild animals like bats and skunks.”
Harrod added that everyone should be cautious around stray dogs and cats as they may be unvaccinated and could be infected by the disease. No one should ever approach a wild animal, especially one that is acting in a strange manner.