Rabies treatment: a shot of love

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Tribune photo by Karen Hall Kamerin Foster, 13, holds Bullet while Dr. Tresha Grissom gives him a rabies shot. Starting today, and for the whole month of April, Marshall County residents can get rabies shots for their pets at a discounted price.

Starting today, and for the whole month of April, Marshall County residents can get rabies shots for their pets at a discounted price.

Local veterinarians have agreed to give a rabies shot for $8 in April, instead of the usual $11. State law requires that pets be vaccinated annually.

"So far, we've had one skunk test positive for rabies this year," said Carl A. Hammons, the Marshall County Health Department's Environmental Specialist. "We've sent several heads to be tested," he added.

The cost of not vaccinating can be high, both emotionally and financially. If a rabid animal bites your pet, the dog or cat will have to be quarantined for six months inside a double fence so no one can touch it, or it will have to be euthanized. If your unvaccinated pet bites someone, you might be liable for the cost of post-exposure rabies shots for the victim, and this can be thousands of dollars.

All warm-blooded mammals are susceptible to rabies, so some people choose to have their horses and other animals vaccinated as well. People who are at high risk of exposure to rabies, such as veterinarians and animal handlers, get vaccinated, too.

According to Wikipedia, since the widespread vaccination of domestic dogs and cats and the development of effective human vaccines and immunoglobulin treatments, the number of recorded deaths in the U.S. from rabies has dropped from 100 or more annually in the early twentieth century, to one or two per year, mostly caused by bat bites, which may go unnoticed by the victim and hence untreated. Between 16,000 and 39,000 people are treated each year for possible exposure to rabies after animal bites.

Rabies is usually considered to be fatal, but a Wisconsin teenager, who was bitten by a bat, survived rabies in 2004 after she was placed in an induced coma. Doctors have been unable to duplicate this result with other sufferers, however, and the cost of her treatment is estimated to have been $800,000.

It's much better to be safe than sorry, and abide by the law.


Veterinarians in Marshall County


Companion Animal Hospital 1340 South Ellington Pkwy 359-6376
Lewisburg Animal Clinic 1113 East Commerce St. 359-5945
Meredith-Warner Animal Clinic 359-3945

Chapel Hill

All About Animals Veterinary Clinic 5348 Nashville Hwy 364-4228
Chapel Hill Veterinary Services 123 South Horton Pkwy 364-7799

Useful numbers

Department of Health 359-1551

Animal Control 359-5948