Last year, 46 people in Buncombe County were given a series of vaccines to prevent rabies, most after getting bitten by someone’s pet. Many of these treatments could have been avoided if the victim had gotten a few pieces of information from the pet owner: the owner’s contact information, pet’s name, and the name of the pet’s veterinarian!
Following four simple steps can usually prevent the unnecessary need for these vaccines:
- Vaccinate all dogs, cats and ferrets against rabies. North Carolina law requires that all pets four months of age and older be current on their rabies vaccine. They must receive either a one-year shot or a three-year shot from a licensed veterinarian and display a tag. Low-cost rabies vaccination clinics are provided at various times throughout the year. Those in Buncombe County are sponsored by both the Animal Control Division of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and the Animal Coalition of Buncombe County. Clinics are scheduled for dogs and cats from 10 am to 2 pm:
- Saturday, June 23 Woodfin Community Center
- Saturday, August 25 Fairview Elementary School
- Saturday, October 6 North Windy Ridge School
- Exchange contact information. Anyone who is bitten by a pet should exchange contact information with the pet owner. It is important to know how to contact the owner and their veterinarian in case questions arise after a bite takes place. Most people who are bitten and don’t have proof that a pet is vaccinated choose to take rabies vaccine treatments rather than risk the possibility of getting rabies, which is deadly. When a bite occurs, a pet that bites someone must be quarantined for a period of 10 days for observation for the symptoms of rabies. Health department officials report that a majority of post-exposure vaccines in Buncombe County are given to people who either don’t know the status of the pet that bit them or don’t know how to contact the owner to get that information. A few treatments are given to people who have been exposed to wildlife.
- Notify Animal Control. Anytime an animal bite takes place, the bite should be reported to the Animal Control office in your city or town.
Animal Control phone numbers:
- Asheville City limits: Asheville Police: 252-1110
- Buncombe County: Sheriff’s Office: 250-6670
- Biltmore Forest: Health Dept.: 250-5109
- Black Mountain: Sheriff’s Office: 250-6670
- Montreat: Health Dept.: 250-5109
- Weaverville: Health Dept.: 250-5109
- Woodfin: Health Dept.: 250-5109
- Contact the Buncombe County Health Department if you are bitten. A trained disease control nurse can talk with you about your exposure and help decide if rabies vaccines are needed.
- Buncombe County Department of Health - Communicable Disease program 250-5109
Rabies treatment requires four shots over a period of two weeks and costs thousands of dollars. It could be prevented if everyone follows these easy steps.