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(West Plains) – The Howell County Health Department’s annual Rabies Vaccination Clinic, held April 27, was a huge success, according to department officials.

A total of 2215 pets were vaccinated across the county by local veterinarians at various locations. Clinics were held at the Kramer Animal Hospital, West Plains Vet Clinic, Talburt Animal Health Center, Animal Clinic of West Plains and the Heart of the Ozarks Fairgrounds in West Plains, Mountain View Farmers Market and Barn Hollow Veterinarian Services in Mountain View, Willow Springs Booster Field and The Animal Clinic of Willow Springs.

To date in 2013, Howell County has had 2 confirmed rabies cases, both involving skunks. Across Missouri, there have been 13 confirmed rabies cases, 11 involving skunks and one case each in a dog and horse. Howell County ended 2012 with 6 rabid skunks reported to the Howell County Health Department. In 2011, Howell County had a total of 7 positive rabies cases, which all involved skunks. In 2010, Howell County had a record total of 16 positive rabies cases, all involving skunks.

Rabies is a viral disease in mammals and is transmitted primarily through bites. Annually, 7,000 to 8,000 rabid animals are detected in the United States, with more than 90 percent of the cases in wild animals. Rabies is found naturally in Missouri, occurring primarily in bats and skunks, although other animals are also found to be rabid each year, including domestic species such as dogs, cats, horses, and cattle.

Pet owners should be aware that if their dog or cat does not have a current rabies vaccination from a licensed veterinarian and is exposed to a rabid animal, the pet will either need to be euthanized or quarantined for six months at the owner’s expense at an approved vet facility. In contrast, a dog or cat that is currently vaccinated and is exposed to a rabid animal, needs only a rabies booster shot followed by a 45-day home quarantine. Domestic animals are protected from the rabies virus 28 days after receiving their initial rabies vaccination.

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