County takes steps to fight animal rabies
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Sonoma County has launched a campaign to promote vaccination of cats and dogs and to educate the public on rabies issues. 

Cats are at just as high risk as dogs and must be vaccinated against rabies.  Transmission of rabies from wildlife continues to be a risk across the United States and in Sonoma County. It is present in wildlife and can be transmitted from these animals to domestic animals or humans. Since 2010, Sonoma County has had 15 positive animals: 13 bats, one fox, and one domestic cat, which is consistent with prior years and rates in other California counties.

While rare, rabies is a very serious disease, and is almost always fatal to humans and domestic animals if not prevented before symptoms appear. Sonoma County Health Officer Lynn Silver Chalfin reminds residents to take simple precautions against rabies.

“There are two simple things we can all do to prevent rabies in our pets and ourselves,” says Silver Chalfin. “The first is to vaccinate all our domestic cats and dogs over four months of age, as required by law. The second is to admire wildlife like bats, skunks, foxes or raccoons from afar – but to keep our hands to ourselves.”

Low-cost rabies vaccinations are available throughout Sonoma County at clinics provided by VIP PetCare.

Go to http://happypet.com/mobile to find the closest clinic. Sonoma County Animal Care and Control (ACC) will, this fall, begin providing rabies vaccinations to all pets seen through its Love Me, Fix Me mobile spay/neuter clinic. In addition, the Department of Health Services is providing resources for the public about rabies prevention. 

Information about rabies symptoms, transmission, treatment, and prevention can be found at www.sonoma-county.org/health/topics/rabies.asp.

Rabies is highly preventable when, and only when, swift action is taken after an exposure. If you are bitten or scratched by an unfamiliar animal – especially a bat – or by an animal suspected of having rabies, immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and then seek medical attention. Waking up to find a bat in your or your child’s bedroom is also a potential exposure. Do not handle fallen or ill bats without protection. Please remember that bats are an important part of the ecosystem, and their simple presence outdoors is not a problem. The County Department of Health Services sent rabies prevention packets by mail to veterinarians this week.

“Veterinarians play a key role in preventing rabies,” says Selena Polston, interim director of Animal Care and Control. “First and foremost, vets are the key professionals who can help assure that pet owners vaccinate their cats and dogs. Vets are also required to report all rabies vaccinations to Sonoma County Animal Care and Control. They are also experts in identifying symptoms, and are tasked with reporting any suspected rabies cases to ACC for testing.”  

Important rabies info

 • To make an appointment with the Love Me, Fix Me mobile spay/neuter clinic (rabies vaccination vouchers provided until fall 2013, then vaccinations will be administered as part of the clinic), call (800) 427-7973.

• For possible human exposure to rabies, contact Sonoma County Disease Control immediately at (707) 565-4567.

• For possible rabid animal, contact Sonoma County Animal Care and Control at (707) 565-7100.

• Veterinarians can report rabies vaccinations to Sonoma County Animal Care and Control by e-mailing  rabiesvac@sonoma-county.org or by snail mail: Attn: Licensing, 1247 Century Court, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.

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