The raccoon is the primary carrier of rabies in the Chattanooga area. (Photo: Robert Burton/USFWS)

In an effort to encourage area residents to have their animals vaccinated, the Chattanooga Hamilton County Health Department is offering low-cost rabies clinics for pets at almost 60 locations.

“Vaccinating our pets is the most important buffer between humans and the wild animal population where the rabies virus mostly lives,” Health Department Director of Environmental Health Services Bonnie Deakins said in a prepared statement. “The rabies vaccine is not just protecting your pet, it’s protecting public health.”

Rabies is caused by a virus that affects the nervous system. The usual mode of rabies transmission is by the introduction of saliva containing the rabies virus into a bite wound. Any mammal, especially raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs, and cats, can get and transmit rabies. Once the infected person or animal shows symptoms of the disease is 100 percent fatal.

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In 2017, the Health Department investigated 706 cases of animals biting humans in Hamilton County. Last year across the state, 36 animals tested positive for rabies. A rabies-infected raccoon was also captured in East Ridge in December 2017.

Rabies vaccinations are required by law for all cats and dogs.

The clinics will be open at nearly 60 different locations on these dates: April 20, April 21, April 25, April 27 and April 28. Clinics will be open from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. All vaccinations will cost $12 per pet.

A special cats-only clinic will be held on April 26 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Prices for cats may change based on location on this date. More information can be found at the link above.

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