The Baltimore County Department of Health remains committed to controlling the rabies virus wherever possible, which is why they are offering low-cost rabies vaccination shots for domesticated animals. No appointment is required. For $8 per animal, you can have your dog, cat, or ferret protected against the life-threatening effects of rabies at a reduced cost.
7 clinics throughout the state of Maryland will each have a different date for the low-cost vaccination day. The first clinic in Perry Hall begins early September, and the last clinic to participate is in Dundalk late October. Baltimore residents are invited to take their animals to 3326 North Rolling Road (Randallstown 21244) on Saturday, October 15th, anywhere from 10 a.m. to noon. A full list of participating clinics and their scheduled dates can be found at http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/health/animalservices/rabiesclinicsked.html.
In order to qualify for a vaccination against rabies, your pet must be at least 12 weeks old and properly leashed or in a carrier. If you are a dog owner, and your dog is over four months old, then you must have the appropriate dog license to get the shot. The dog also must be muzzled if they are known to be aggressive. Baltimore city citizens who bring proof of a current rabies vaccination in the form of a certificate may get a 3-year rabies vaccine (rabies tags are not considered proof). Otherwise, they will be given a 1-year vaccine.
According to the Baltimore County government website, rabies is a virus that infects the central nervous system through a bite, scratch, or a lick from an infected animal. The rabies virus can affect humans, domesticated and wild animals alike. Symptoms can take anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks to manifest, and if not treated, can result in death.
These symptoms include a wide array of behavioral changes. Rabies is most commonly known for its tendency to make animals become aggressive, but it may also make them become withdrawn, tame, or even friendly. Eventually, an animal with rabies will most likely begin to stagger, convulse, or froth at the mouth.
If you are bitten by a wild animal, Baltimore health officials suggest you immediately was the wound with soap and water, scrubbing gently. Afterwards, you should seek medical help, regardless of if the animal was displaying symptoms of a rabies infection or not. If the animal is still alive, try to have it captured so that it can be tested or quarantined as necessary. If it is dead, wear heavy gloves and save it for officials to test. Try not to damage the head, as this area is vital for testing.
This year in Baltimore, 27 animals have been confirmed by Maryland labs to have rabies. Of these 27 animals, 10 were bats, and 17 were raccoons. Last year in Baltimore, there were 36 rabid animals total – 19 bats, 14 raccoons, 2 foxes and 1 groundhog were all confirmed as carrying the virus.
According to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, approximately 5% of all Baltimore City bats that were tested between the years 2000 and 2015 were positive for rabies. This is compared to 16% of the tested Baltimore City raccoon population in the same time period (128 out of 768 were found to be positive).
Rabies does not seem to be as much of a threat to domesticated animals in Baltimore. Only 4 cats in Baltimore have ever tested positive during this 15-year time period, and never has a single dog tested positive for rabies in Baltimore in the 2000s. With health-oriented events such as the low-cost vaccination day, the Baltimore County Health Department hopes that the low number of infected household animals will stay that way.