Local officials want citizens to know that rabies cases over the past 12 months have been more frequent in Madison County than in years past.
And they urge people to be cautious around unfamiliar animals.
“We’ve had above normal positives,” said BOC chairman Anthony Dove, who spoke with board of health leaders about the matter last week. “My concern is that this is going to get into household cats and dogs.”
The county animal control office has sent notices to this newspaper concerning new rabies cases at least once a month since August of last year.
According to the animal control office, there were 18 rabies cases in the county in 2011, 27 in 2012 and seven already in 2013.
“It’s getting to where it seems every skunk we find is positive (for rabies),” said Dove.
Dove said he’s particularly concerned about rabies cases increasing as the weather gets warmer. And he wants parents to be aware of what they and their kids are handling, noting that even puppies and kittens can have rabies.
“People need to make sure their pets are vaccinated,” he said.
Animal control department head Jack Huff said Madison County usually has around 18 cases per year.
“We have an elevated number,” said Huff. “It doesn’t appear to be at an epidemic stage, but it’s elevated.”
Huff and Dove both said they don’t know why rabies cases are elevated, but they both think it could have something to do with the recent mild winters. Huff said that he saw an increase in fleas, ticks and mange with animals this past summer.
“The mild winter may have some effect on rabies too,” said Huff.
Animal control officials remind citizens that puppies, kittens, and ferrets must be vaccinated at 12 weeks of age. If someone is unsure of the rabies vaccination status on their pet, it is safe to give the animal a booster shot.
Call your local veterinarian or the Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter with questions concerning rabies vaccinations.
Georgia state law and the Madison County Animal Control Ordinance require all owners of dogs, cats and ferrets to have current rabies vaccinations.
The vaccination must be administered by a licensed veterinarian to be valid.