The Johnson County Health Department is partnering with Taylor Animal Clinic to offer low-cost rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats during the month of May. Vaccinations will be provided at the following locations and times: May 2 at Trade School at 6:00 p.m. and Shouns School at 7:00 p.m.; May 3 at Laurel Bloomery School at 6:30 p.m.; May 4 at Doe Valley School at 6:00 p.m. and Old Butler School at 7:00 p.m.; May 5 at Roan Creek School at 6:00 p.m. and Dry Run Fire Dept. at 7:00 p.m.; May 6 at Shady Valley School at 6:30 p.m.; and May 7 at Mountain City Elementary at 11:00 a.m. The cost of the vaccination is $8.00 for each dog and $8.00 for each cat. Tennessee law requires rabies vaccination for dogs and cats.
“Rabies is a threat to both pets and people in Tennessee, so it’s important all pet owners keep their dogs and cats up to date on rabies vaccinations,” said Terry Goins, Regional Environmental Supervisor. “Rabies vaccinations protect us as well as our pets. Pets are more likely than people to come into contact with wild animals that may have rabies and could then spread the virus to people.”
Most cases of rabies reported in Tennessee occur in wild animals. In 2015 there were 33 cases of rabies reported across the State, with 24 of those cases among skunks. Vaccination programs are a major factor in preventing rabies in humans. The last human case of rabies occurred in 2002 when contact with a bat occurred but was not reported. Goins stated that the Health Department recently confirmed a diagnosis of rabies in a stray cat in the Trade Community as well as in a raccoon in the Mountain City area and stressed community members be aware of suspicious animal behavior. Since May of 2015 there have been 6 confirmed cases of rabies in Johnson County, with one of those being a domestic animal.
Rabies is transmitted in saliva through the bite of an infected mammal. Rabid animals are not always aggressive. Wildlife may carry the rabies virus without showing any recognizable signs of infection. Any animals that are acting strangely, such as nocturnal animals seen out in the daytime, must be regarded as sick and potentially rabid. If a wild or domestic animal seems sick or acts strangely, report it to the Sheriff’s Department at 423-727-7669.
People can be exposed to rabies when attempting to help, feed, or handle wild animals, so it’s important to avoid touching any wild animal, especially common carriers such as bats, skunks, raccoons, and foxes. If you are bitten or come into contact with the saliva of an animal that may be sick or rabid, contact your health care provider.
For more information about the rabies vaccinations clinics, call the Johnson County Health Department at 423-727-9731.
Note: In last week’s edition of The Tomahawk, erroneous information was received regarding the number of rabies cases in Johnson County. The correct information is that there are eight confirmed cases in Tennessee. Of those eight, two are in Johnson County and four are in eastern Tennessee.