This upcoming week is the start of the annual rabies vaccination clinic being held at all of the fire departments in Robeson County. Trying to hit all the departments with a limited number of animal professionals is extremely tough and the veterinarians have scheduled visits something akin to politicians at voting time.
Reported rabies runs in cycles. One year we are up, the next we are down. The number of rabies cases really has little correlation with the number of animals that are rabid within a county. How could that be? Look at 2016 and the top five counties ranked for submitting samples that were positive were Mercklenburg, Wake, Guilford, Durham and Cabarrus.
So do you really think Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham or Kanapolis/Concord have more rabid animals than Robeson, Columbus and Bladen? The difference is population density. When a raccoon — almost half of all rabid animals are these masked raiders — runs across a street in Raleigh, his head is going to be submitted because he may have come in contact with a pet or human. Counter that with one that staggers from one field to another across N.C. 72 and it will not be submitted because it never came in contact with the vulnerable population. So if there is a fairly equal distribution of rabies, then you have to assume that because no one encountered them in the sparser populated counties, they simply died in the woods, possibly after infecting some other animal.
So why get your pet vaccinated?
— Reason 1: State law requires all cats, dogs and ferrets over 4 months old to be current with a rabies vaccination and the rabies tag will be worn at all times.
— Reason 2: If your unvaccinated dog, cat or ferret comes in contact with a rabid animal, which is any animal unavailable for testing, it will in all likelihood be euthanized.
— Reason 3: Because you love your pet and you want to protect it, which really then protects you — similar reason for having your children get their immunizations.
— Reason 4: This rabies clinic offers the vaccination cheaper than any other time of the year. For a mere $5, you receive peace of mind, and your pet gets to remain your pet.
Tip of the hat to the participating veterinarians who want what”s best for your pets.
A recent photo and story in this paper brought a few comments to me. First, the story was prepared for the paper so they are not at fault for the misrepresentation. It had to do with Cumberland County Health Department giving signs to the public school system in Robeson to upgrade current signage for the campuses being tobacco free.
Robeson County is the lead for Region 8 Tobacco Awareness. Region 8 also includes Bladen, Columbus, New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender Sampson, Duplin and Onslow counties. The state had money for a half-time coordinator for each region, and we chose to combine with Region 6 to have a full-time youth coordinator for tobacco activities. This person is housed in Cumberland. The state provided funding for all of the counties as it related to the signage provision. So though Cumberland is the fiscal agent, the county did not provide all of the signs anymore than if Robeson County had gotten the funding and distributed the signs.
It should have been noted as a Region 6/Region 8 initiative rather than Cumberland County providing signs to 16 counties out of county funding. While county health departments often share resources and expertise across county lines, this was not an example of that.
Bill Smith is the director of the Robeson County Health Department.