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World Rabies Day observed with pet vaccination clinic

AEGIS STAFF REPORT

5:55 PM EDT, September 20, 2012

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Calling attention to 2012 World Rabies Day, the Harford County Health Department is collaborating with international rabies experts and 4 Paws Spa and Training Center Inc., a local business in Forest Hill, to offer a low cost pet rabies vaccination clinic for Harford County pet owners.

The Health Department's Bureau of Environmental Health traditionally has marked the observance by providing this unique community outreach initiative, and will do so again, this year.

Although World Rabies Day is formally recognized on Friday, Sept. 28, the health department is conducting the clinic on Saturday, Sept. 29 from 1 to 4 p.m. To provide for greater accessibility, the event will take place for the fifth consecutive year at 4 Paws Spa and Training Center at 121A Industry Lane in the Forest Hill. Upon entering the airpark, signs will direct the public to the clinic.

"We are delighted that this important partnership with the health department has been maintained and the low cost rabies vaccination can be provided," Robin Greenwood, owner of 4 Paws Spa and Training, said.

Veterinarians at the health department-sponsored clinic will vaccinate dogs, cats and ferrets for $5 per animal. Dog, cat and ferret owners who wish to protect their pets from this dreaded disease are invited to participate and take advantage of this service.

"Rabies vaccinations for dogs, cats and ferrets are required by Maryland law and pet owners realize the importance of protecting their pet against this deadly viral disease," David Reiher, Harford County Health Department Rabies and Vector Control Program Coordinator, said. "Having a current rabies vaccination can eliminate the need for your pet to be euthanized or endure a very difficult six month isolation period should it have contact with known rabies vectors like raccoons, foxes and bats."

Founded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Alliance for Rabies Control, a UK charity, the goal of World Rabies Day is to bring together relevant partners in an effort to address rabies prevention and control through coordinated pet vaccination efforts and educational awareness. The 2012 theme is "Together We Can Make Rabies History."

"We cannot afford to let our guard down with regard to rabies," Harford County Health Officer Susan Kelly said, noting that rabies is ever-present in wildlife that can expose our pets and possibly our family members. "The threat of rabies to humans significantly decreases by ensuring adequate animal vaccination and control, educating those at risk and enhancing access of those bitten to appropriate medical care."

Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 1 of this year, the health department has identified 14 rabies positive animals, including 13 raccoons and one bat.

Statistics demonstrating the impact of rabies on public health include:

• 55,000 deaths worldwide annually (approximately one person every 10 minutes);

• Approximately 7,000 cases of animal rabies in the U.S. annually. These animals, mostly wildlife, can expose humans or pets to rabies;

• One to three cases of human rabies in the U.S. per year; and

• The last reported case of human rabies in Maryland was in 1976 as the result of an exposure to an infected bat.

Every year an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 Americans are potentially exposed to rabies, requiring costly and uncomfortable human rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. Post exposure treatment requires administration of Human Rabies Immune Globulin (HRIG) and four vaccinations over the course of two weeks, costs of which might not be covered by health insurance.

Additional information is available online at http://www.harfordcountyhealth.com/rabies, http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/Epidemiology/Epidemiology.htm#Wild%20Animals and http://www.worldrabiesday.org. You may also contact Reiher, 410-877-2315.