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Rabies cases continue to increase

Unprecedented infection rate serves as reminder to get all pets vaccinated

POSTED: March 31, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The rabies situation in Hall County has gone from bad to worse.

Hall County Animal Control director Rick Phillips said in the past three weeks, there have been nine confirmed cases of rabies in wild animals. Combined with two cases reported in January, that makes 11 so far this year, an unprecedented number.

"Animals are getting more active with the spring weather," Phillips said.

All but one of the cases this month were in North Hall, where sightings of rabid animals have become an almost daily occurrence.

On March 6, an infected skunk came into contact with two dogs on River Drive North. The following day on the same street, a Hall County sheriff’s deputy responded to a report of another skunk behaving strangely. He shot and killed the animal.

On March 8, a deputy shot a rabid raccoon on Mount Vernon Road.

Phillips said the sheriff’s office answers animal complaints after hours, and because skunks and raccoons are both nocturnal, law enforcement ends up handling many of the rabies cases.

On March 14, 15 and 16, there were three more confirmed cases involving a skunk and two raccoons. Phillips said two cases occurred on Price Road in North Hall.

The other incident happened on Cool Springs Road, where an infected raccoon confronted a dog that had not been vaccinated for rabies.

State law requires that the dog must either be euthanized or placed in strict quarantine for six months.

"The dog is currently at a vet clinic while the owner decides whether to put it down or to build a quarantine facility," Phillips said.

Because of the unusually high incidence of rabies this year, the Humane Society of Hall County is sponsoring a rabies vaccination clinic from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday in the animal shelter parking lot at 845 W. Ridge Road.

Shots will cost $10 each. The event is open to all dogs and cats older than 3 months, and pets must be restrained on leashes or in carriers.

Phillips said people need to take the situation seriously, because rabies is a fatal disease that can be transmitted to humans.

"Teach your children not to approach wild animals," he said. "And if a wild animal approaches you, that’s not normal. Call the authorities."



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