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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Rabies Clinics in Northern and Southern Berkshires

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Wednesday, March 22, 2006

April 1 rabies clinics have been scheduled for North Adams and New Marlboro
An April 1 pet clinic scheduled for the North Adams Fire Department firehouse on American Legion Drive will offer low-cost rabies inoculations for North Adams cats and dogs and also offer opportunity for city dog owners to license their canines.

Shots And Licenses Available

The 9:30 a.m. - noon clinic is sponsored by the Greylock Animal Hospital in conjunction with the city Animal Control Department. Dogs attending the clinic must be leashed and cats must be contained in pet carriers. Dog owners are asked to be prepared to clean up after their dogs.

The cost per rabies shot is $11.

Dog owners will also be able to purchase 2006 dog licenses during the clinic. A dog does not have to appear at the clinic in order for the owner to purchase a license, however, proof of a valid, up-to-date rabies vaccination must be presented before a dog license will be issued. Spayed or neutered dogs can be licensed for an $8 fee; dog owners who have not spayed or neutered their canines will pay $20 for the dog licenses. A dog owner seeking a license for a spayed or neutered dog for the first time must provide proof of the procedure.

New Marlboro Clinic

A rabies clinic has been scheduled in New Marlboro for April 1 at the Southfield firehouse. The 10 a.m. to noon clinic was scheduled in conjunction with the state's seventh yearly "Rabies Vaccination Day." Rabies shots will cost $10 at that clinic.

Rabies Vaccination Day was launched by the state Department of Agricultural Resources Division of Animal Health to generate public awareness of rabies and to encourage local compliance with state animal vaccination statutes. Several Berkshire region communities, including Egremont, Great Barrington, and Monterey, hosted "vaccination day" clinics earlier this month.

It's The Law And This Is Why

All dogs, cats, and ferrets kept within Massachusetts are required to be vaccinated against rabies.

Rabies is an infectious, contagious virus that can be transmitted to humans. Rabies is considered 100 percent fatal if not appropriately treated. During late 2005 and earlier this year, rabid fox attacked several persons in Clarksburg. Town police subsequently encountered and destroyed the rabid animals.

According to information provided by the state agricultural resources division, "Rabies is now a permanent fixture within the wildlife population of Massachusetts. Though the virus may not be detected in an area for long periods of time, it is still present. Vaccinating your dog or cat is the best way to prevent the threat of rabies from entering your home. Keeping your pets up-to-date on their rabies shots is not only the law, it is also in the best interest of your animals and your family."

Most rabies cases are found in wild animals such as bats, skunks, and raccoons. Domestic animals such as dogs, cats, and ferrets, and farm animals such as cattle may acquire exposure to the rabies virus during an encounter with a wild animal.

Humans may be exposed to the virus through an encounter with a wild animal or via a family pet that has come in contact with a rabid animal.

Early symptoms of rabies in humans may appear as fever, headache, and general malaise, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the disease progresses, neurological symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety,confusion, partial paralysis, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia [intense fear of water] may develop.

People who may have been exposed to the rabies virus can be treated through a series of inoculations. If exposure is suspected, medical assistance should be sought immediately.

Wild animals infected with the virus may behave oddly; for example, nocturnal animals may appear in the daytime and act fiercely, as the fox in Clarksburg, or behave in a sickly, dazed, or otherwise unusual manner. Some animals may appear listless or partially paralyzed.

Any suspicious or ill-appearing wild animals should be reported to a municipal animal control officer immediately. Animal experts warn against approaching the animals.

According to information provided by a www.animalhealthchannel.com Internet web site, dogs infected with the rabies virus may become paralyzed immediately, or may rapidly become vicious. Cats may also suddenly attack with teeth and claws.

Other symptoms that may affect all infected animals include a craving to eat anything, even inedible items, dilated pupils, seizures, a dropping of the lower jaw [prevalent in dogs], and an inability to swallow.

Additional information about rabies may be acquired by visiting a www.cdc.gov Internet web site or a www.mass.gov Internet web site.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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