The Madison County Health Department is likely looking at at least a four-percent cut in state funding for fiscal year 2012.
That was the news given to health department board members during their quarterly meeting last week.
Health department office manager Carol Phillips said that a four-percent reduction in funding would mean approximately $10,000 less in operating expenses for Madison County.
“We’re cutting every way that we can – supplies, pharmaceuticals, whatever we can,” she said. Health department services include childhood and adult vaccines, birth control/family planning, cardiovascular disease screening, treatment for high blood pressure and diabetes, services for pregnant women and newborns, sexually transmitted disease (including AIDS) testing and treatment, and environmental health (restaurant inspections, septic tank permits, water samples and rabies testing and statistics).
As of the end of April, there have been five positive cases of rabies in Madison County – four skunks and one raccoon. Eleven animals have been tested for rabies. Three citizens have undergone, or are currently undergoing, the series of rabies shots so far this year for possible exposure to the deadly disease.
For 2010, there were nine skunks, two raccoons, a fox and a cat that tested positive for rabies. Eight people took the rabies treatment last year.
The Department of Agriculture also confirmed two cases of rabies in farm animals - that of a donkey and a bull. The donkey died in the field and the bull became bite aggressive and was euthanized, according to environmental health official Cathy Kelly.
Kelley said all dogs, cats and ferrets should be vaccinated against the disease, which is fatal to both humans and pets. Owners should also consider vaccinating their horses, cows, goats and other livestock as well, since they can also develop the disease after exposure to another infected mammal.
Kelly noted that if dogs, cats, ferrets or other pets are not current on their rabies vaccines and are exposed to the virus, the law requires that they be either euthanized or quarantined for six months in a double pen to monitor them for the disease. Regular rabies vaccination of dogs, cats and ferrets is also required by law.
Kelly says that incidents of rabies in Madison County as well as surrounding areas tend to go up and down. For example, there may be numerous confirmed cases one year, but the virus may wane in the area the next year. “It’s just unpredictable,” she said, but advises that the most important thing residents can do is to keep their pets current on rabies vaccines in order to avoid human exposure to the disease. Report any contact with a suspicious wild or domestic animal to the health department or to 9-1-1.