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Rabies on the rise, second year in a row

Posted: Thursday, Apr 18th, 2013

Rabies is on the rise for the second year. This has vets and city officials urging people to vaccinate their animals.

South Dakota reported there were 60 animal rabies cases in 2012, up from 40 the year before. While animal rabies is reported every year, the disease tends to be cyclical, with years of high case numbers followed by years with lower numbers.

Rabies is a risk every year in South Dakota. That risk is considered to be state wide. In 2012 there were rabies detections in 29 South Dakota Counties. They included 21 domestic animals - 16 cattle, three horses, and two cats. Wild animals with rabies included 36 skunks and three bats. The 16 rabid cattle in 2012 was the highest number of cases in 15 years for South Dakota and that number is also higher than any other state in the country.

Rabies vaccine is available for cattle, but routine vaccination of cattle herds isn’t practical. However, show animals should be vaccinated.

Dr. William Baus has yet to notice a rise himself in rabies in Spink County, but mentions that it usually occurs after the snow melts and skunks begin moving around the towns. He also says that skunks are the number one cause of rabies in domestic animals.

Baus notes that the James River Valley has a historically high number of rabies cases compared to the rest of South Dakota. He sees cases of rabies all year long and he, and his staff, are well versed in the subject.

When asked if he had any suggestions for people that are noticing rabies symptoms in their pets, Baus mentioned that people should immediately talk with their vet. He also said that, “prvention is the best measure to take.”

Vaccinating your pets and animals is the best way to curb rabies, mentions Baus.

The City of Redfield actually requires that all pets be vaccinated against rabies in order to become licensed. The Redfield ordinance states that: At the time of registration, a person registering a dog shall present evidence that the animal has a current vaccination for rabies. The ordinance also applies for other pets.

At the Redfield Animal Health Center, the cost of a rabies vaccination is only $15. This vaccination allows for piece of mind.

People, by law, are allowed to vaccinate their own pets, but if a situation were to arise where a court matter would be present, the courts do not recognize self-vaccination. The vaccination must be done by a certified and accredited veterinarian.

If you suspect rabies in a wild animal, pet or livestock, or if your animal has been bitten by a possibly rabid animal, contact a veterinarian immediately. If you have a potential exposure to rabies, wash the affected area with soap and water right away and call your doctor or the Department of Health at 1-800-592-1861.

For the complete article see the 04-10-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 04-10-2013 paper.

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