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Traveling clinic set for rabies

By Staff
From staff reports
Today marks the beginning of Rabies Awareness Week in Alabama, and local veterinarian Dr. John D. Bagwell will deliver vaccinations to the rural areas of the county next weekend to help pet owners protect their animals from the deadly disease. (See schedule, page 5A).
Rabies is a disease of all warm-blooded mammals, including man, and is generally fatal if specialized anti-rabies treatment is not obtained immediately. Raccoons, bats, foxes and skunks are most responsible for transmitting the virus to domesticated animals and humans.
Dr. Bagwell said that vaccinating bets provides a "buffer" between wildlife and humans.
According to the Escambia County Department of Public Health, there have been three cases of rabies in Escambia County within the past 12 months. In August 2004, a fox from the East Brewton area tested positive. In February 2005 a bat from the Atmore area tested positive, and in February 2005 a raccoon from the Brewton area tested positive.
Health department officials said this should be a strong reminder that rabies is present in Escambia County. There were 64 lab-confirmed cases in Alabama last year
The 64 laboratory-confirmed animal rabies cases in Alabama during 2004 were from the following species and represented the following percentage of cases: 34 raccoons (53 percent), 23 bats (36 percent), 3 cats (4 percent), 2 dogs (3 percent), 1 fox, (2 percent), and 1 bobcat (2 percent). During 2003 there were 66 confirmed rabies cases statewide.
In Alabama, raccoons are the animals most likely infected with rabies. For more information on rabies or prevention, contact your veterinarian or the Escambia County Health Department at 251-368-9188 or 251-867-5765.