In 2005 Houston County led the state in rabies cases, and this year looks no different. So far this year there have been four rabies incidents in the area, all in raccoons.
The majority of the cases this year, three of the four, took place off of Hodgesville Road, including the latest incident. In January the Houston County Health Department confirmed one raccoon rabid off of Stonebridge Road in the southwest side of the circle.
Veterinarian Dr. Martin says sightings in more populated areas of the county will only grow, "Even in the city we have foxes and raccoons primarily because subdivisions are being moved into their natural habitats."
The majority of rabies cases are found in wild animals, but occasionally the disease is transmitted to pets or humans through the wild animals. But the good thing is, there is an easy way to stop the spread of the virus.
Martin says, "The important thing is if you don't get pets vaccinated then they pets are the barriers between people and wild animals and we need that."
Signs of an animal that has contracted rabies begins with a drastic behavior change. Playful dogs and cats become lethargic, later in the process the disease causes paralysis in the animal’s throat, not allowing them to eat, drink or swallow, and in the last stages animals become mean and aggressive.
Martin says, "To my knowledge there have been no vaccine failures."
State law mandates that all cats and dogs get a rabies vaccine every year. With an almost 100 percent effectiveness rating, and the increase in incidents in this area, there is no reason not to protect your pets and in turn your family.