Rabies cases hit record high in Hanover County

By Matt Butner - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) – Hanover County has seen a record number of rabies cases in 2009. 32 cases have been confirmed, and another suspected case was documented just last night. All of this comes at a time when budget cuts have left Animal Control short staffed.

The latest possible rabies case in Hanover came to light Monday night on Hickory Oaks Lane. A skunk came charging at a man as he stood in his yard.

"He shot it, and we're having it tested now. Any time an animal shows unusual behavior like that, it's a good indication that it'll be positive for rabies," said Kevin Kilgore, Hanover Animal Control.

If that test does come back positive, it will add to Hanover County's record year. It's a record that couldn't come at a worse time for Kevin Kilgore and his staff at Animal Control. Budget cuts have reduced a small staff of 8, down to 7.

"We're having more rabies cases and I have fewer officers to work with, so it's a very volatile situation right now," Kilgore said.

The department is relying more than ever on the public to help prevent the spread of rabies.

The first and most important step is for pet owners to vaccinate their pets, and make sure those shots stay current. Rabies can spread between unvaccinated animals and eventually to humans. That leads to long and often painful rabies treatments.

"It's a disease that's preventable, so we don't want people to go through something that they really don't have to go through," said Marcus Allen, Hanover Health Department.

Another way to help is to report strange or aggressive wild animals to police or Animal Control. If the public does its part, it will make it easier for Hanover's shorthanded Animal Control officers to do theirs.

"Right now all we can do is respond as quickly as we can and hope that people get the message, that their pets are vaccinated," said Kilgore.

The next upcoming rabies clinic in Hanover will be Saturday, January 9 from 9 a.m. until noon, at the Parks and Recreation Office on Taylor Complex Lane. The cost is $7 per shot. The veterinarian will administer the shots at your vehicle so you don't have to bring your pet inside.

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