CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County pet owners can get their dogs and cats vaccinated for rabies at a low cost this weekend.
The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department is hosting a roadside rabies clinic from 9 a.m. until noon Saturday in its Lee Street parking lot. Pet owners can get their animals vaccinated for $10 in cash.
The clinic is being offered in response to a low rabies vaccination rate of dogs in the county, said Brandon Merritt, regional epidemiologist.
In looking at data from animal bites in Kanawha County between 2007 and 2010, health officials found that 80 percent of the 626 reported animal bites were from dogs and 16 percent were from cats.
The remaining bites were from rodents, raccoons, bats, ferrets and monkeys. Of the animals responsible for bites in those three years, only 35 percent of dogs and 21 percent of cats had up-to-date rabies vaccines, Merritt said.
If health officials can't firm that an offending animal has had a rabies vaccination, they have to recommend that bite victims get the human rabies vaccine, which is costly and painful, he said.
The series of shots is less expensive now than it used to be when it required five or more shots to the abdomen, he said. The current practice for human vaccinations for rabies requires four shots that range in cost from $600 to $1,000 each, he said.
"A lot of people, when they hear you're going to recommend a rabies vaccination, they freak out," Merritt said.
Of the bite victims between 2007 and 2010, health officials recommended that 40 people get a rabies vaccine, he said.