By Kristan Krogman
There were dogs in crates and cats in boxes, dogs on leashes and cats held tightly by their owners, big dogs, little dogs, scaredy cats and brave cats. Such was the scene at the Lion’s Club’s annual Rabies Clinic held last week at the old Fire Hall in White River.
The clinic has been an ongoing project since at least 2004 and this year marked another successful event. Jan Endes with the Lion’s Club reported that thirty eight dogs and nineteen cats were vaccinated at this year’s event. Virtually all the animals were administered the rabies vaccine and a number of other products were also available and part of the clinic, some of those included distemper and parvo shots and worm prevention.
Clinics such as the one held Thursday are important for various reasons, but none more important than preventing the spread of rabies. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in the last 100 years, the number of human deaths attributed to rabies has decreased from more than 100 per year to an average of only two to three per year. The CDC sites two programs for the decrease. Number one is more effective animal control and more widespread use of the rabies vaccination by pet owners. Number two is more effective vaccines and immunoglobulins for humans.
Despite the decreased number of cases, the increased awareness and widespread vigilence, rabies remains a serious threat. There were 31 human cases in the United States between the years of 2004-2013, with 28 of them fatal.
In 2013 alone, according to the Rabies Surveillance Report there were a total of 635 animals tested for rabies in South Dakota. Of those 635, 28 tested positive. The majority of those testing positive were skunks, though there were also seven domestic animals that tested positive (5 cattle, 1 dog, and 1 cat).
Four of the skunks that tested positive in South Dakota in 2013 were found in neighboring counties, one in Todd County and three in Bennett County. Though rabies is not as prevalent as it has been in the past, because of statistics such as these, it is still especially important that pet owners remain vigilant in protecting their pets, and as a result themselves from contracting the disease.