Rabies vaccination is crucial

Published 11:03 am Monday, May 14, 2018

Rabies is a danger everyone, especially pet owners, should be on the lookout for.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website at www.aphis.usda.gov states rabies is caused by a virus which impacts the central nervous system in mammals. Rabies is nearly always transmitted via a rabid animal bite. The majority of rabies cases in the United States occur in wildlife such as bats, raccoons, foxes and skunks. While rabies can be fatal, effective vaccines are available to protect people, pets and livestock.

According to a press release, the USDA is conducting an oral rabies vaccine bait distribution program in the region, intended to vaccinate raccoons against the disease. This program is a result of a raccoon which tested positive for rabies in the Big Stone Gap area of Wise County, Virginia. While no animals have tested positive for rabies in eastern Kentucky, the program has been extended to the area due to the close proximity to the area where the positive specimen was located.

The release additionally states the oral vaccination baits are distributed from the air. A navigator is present on the aircraft to turn the distribution machine off when necessary to keep the bait from being dropped on roadways, in large bodies of water, on structures. The vaccine is distributed in a plastic packet containing vaccine and coated with a sticky, fish scented substance designed to attract raccoons. Each packet is marked with a toll-free number (1-877-722-6725) to call for information or assistance should someone come in contact with the bait.

Of course, it’s a good idea to have your pet vaccinated as necessary.

The Harlan County Health Department is sponsoring a number of $5 rabies clinics at different locations around the county. On Thursday, clinics will be held at the Baxter Post Office from 5:50 p.m. until 6:15 p.m., the Bledsoe Post Office from 6:30 p.m. until 6:45 p.m., Old Al’s Cash and Carry from 6:55 p.m. until 7:10 p.m. and from 7:30 p.m. until 7:50 p.m. at the Pine Mountain Settlement School.

Additional clinics are scheduled on May 22, June 5, 7 and 12. Contact the Harlan County Health Department for more information.