The Barton County Health Department held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the Barton County rabies resolution, and if there is a need for an update to the existing regulations.
“This meeting was to discuss the current regulations when it comes to how we vaccinate animals in Barton County,” Barton County Health Director Shelly Schneider said. “There was a public complaint about the resolution that drew interested from the city officials and the public to see if a change is needed on how these animals are treated according to the resolution.”
The current resolution states that anyone that feeds, waters and houses a cat, dog, ferret or horse is required to get the animals vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian once a year, and the animal will also be registered. The rabies vaccination and documentation provided by the vet will serve as the registration and license.
The part of the resolution that was brought up most frequently during the meeting was the annual requirement. It was suggested to have these animals vaccinated every three years instead.
According to Dr. Ingrid Garrison, a vet with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, there is no state-wide law regarding animal vaccinations, and it is up to the city or county to implement such regulations.
“There is no state mandatory law in Kansas that states that animal owners must have their animal vaccinated, there however are city and county laws that do state that this must be done,” Garrison said. “What we care about at the state level is that animals be currently vaccinated against rabies to stop the spread of the decease and to protect the public against it. So what we do at the state level is to make recommendations about city resolutions.”
At this time, no changes have been made to the rabies resolution in Barton County. There is another meeting set for 1 p.m. March 5 in the County Commissioners chamber at the Barton County Court House to discuss the matter even further.
Schneider said everyone is invited and encouraged to attend.
“We would really like a good turn out to this meeting as it involves everyone that owns a pet,” Schneider said. “Pets are an extension of our family and should be taken care of, this resolution is put in place to do exactly that and to protect the public against rabies.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes.
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort.
As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.
As for pets, any animal bitten or scratched by either a wild, carnivorous mammal or a bat that is not available for testing should be regarded as having been exposed to rabies.