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The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Health Division is urging pet owners to keep their pets current on their rabies vaccinations. Once again the Humboldt-Del Norte Veterinary Medical Association is sponsoring low cost rabies vaccination clinics throughout the county. Some animal care facilities provide vaccination clinics year-around. It is important that owners keep their pets current on shots. The clinics will be vaccinating dogs and cats at the cost of $6 per rabies vaccination.

Last year through February 2010, the county experienced a fox rabies epidemic. The Public Health Branch tested 114 animals in 2009. Thirty-six foxes and two skunks tested positive for the rabies virus.

Remarkably, in March this year an unvaccinated dog from Mad River tested positive for rabies. The last rabies positive dog in Humboldt County was over twenty years ago in 1989.

Rabies is always present in the wildlife population and typically found in bats, skunks, and sometimes in wild carnivores such as coyotes or foxes. No matter where they reside, people can protect themselves with the following measures:

– Avoid contact with wild animals including feral cats. Do not encourage them around your home by feeding them.

– Report aggressive wild animals and stray animals to local law enforcement.

– Vaccinate dogs, cats and select livestock against rabies. Keep vaccinations current.

– Obtain medical care promptly if bitten by any animal.

– Report bites from domestic animals to county or city animal control and bites from wild animals to Environmental Health.

– For schools and daycares, add policy and procedures for handling stray or wild animals. Instruct children to keep away and report them to an adult.

– Dogs need to be vaccinated initially at the age of four months and then revaccinated within one year and thereafter at least once every three years.

Questions about rabies should be directed to the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Health Division at (707) 445-6215 or toll free at 1-800-963-9241. Report animal bites to the animal control agency for your jurisdiction.

photo: Clinics are scheduled for the following days and times.

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