Susan Buckley, RN, Director, Public Health
Ira Singh, MPH, Deputy Director
Donald I. Baird, MD, Health Officer

Division of Environmental Health


Date Released: 5/22/2009
Subject: Annual Low Cost Rabies Vaccination Clinics for 2009
Contact: Kevin Metcalfe, Supervising Environmental Health Specialist, Environmental Health Division
Phone: (707) 445-6215

The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Health Division is reminding pet owners to keep their pets current on their rabies vaccinations. This year there will be low cost rabies vaccination clinics sponsored by the Humboldt-Del Norte Veterinary Medical Association. Some animal care facilities provide vaccination clinics year-around.

The Humboldt County Public Health Branch tests over 60 animals each year. These tests are performed when there has been contact between a potentially rabid animal and a pet or person. In the year 2008, there were nine positive animals including one cat, two skunks, and six foxes. For the current year 2009 to this date, 33 animal specimens have been submitted for testing with 16 positive animals, including 14 foxes and two skunks. Skunks, bats and foxes are known to carry rabies in California.

While most of these cases of wildlife rabies occur where populations are greatest, such as the Eureka, Fortuna, and Arcata areas, the rabies disease may occur in all areas of the County. The Humboldt Bay area from Elk River to Arcata, especially Jacoby Creek, Sunny Brae and Fickle Hill, remain a heightened concern for aggressive fox behavior and positive rabid foxes and skunks. Other areas of the county where wild animals have tested positive this year include Rio Dell, Yager Creek (Carlotta), Drake Hill (Fortuna), Freshwater, and Eureka. In each of these incidents, the person involved did the correct thing by seeking medical attention, detaining the animal where possible, notifying local law enforcement, and contacting the Division of Environmental Health.

Residents are warned that a fox can show very aggressive behavior when exhibiting the symptoms of the rabies virus and may attack people and domestic animals without provocation. Rabies is endemic (i.e. always present in the wildlife population) and typically found in bats, skunks, and sometimes in wild carnivores such as coyotes or foxes. No matter where they reside, people can protect themselves with the following measures:

1. Avoid contact with wild animals including feral cats. Do not encourage them around your home by feeding them.
2. Report aggressive wild animals and stray animals to local law enforcement.
3. Vaccinate dogs, cats and select livestock against rabies. Keep vaccinations current.
4. Obtain medical care promptly if bitten by any animal.
5. Report bites from domestic animals to county or city animal control and bites from wild animals to Environmental Health.
6. For schools and daycares, add policy and procedures for handling stray or wild animals. Instruct children to keep away and report them to an adult.

Rabies in humans can be prevented either by eliminating exposures to rabid animals or by providing exposed persons with prompt local treatment of wounds combined with rabies post exposure treatment. Questions regarding possible exposures should be directed promptly to the Public Health Branch or the Environmental Health Division.

The Environmental Health Division receives weekly calls from concerned people with pets that have had contact with a potentially rabid animal. If an unvaccinated pet (dog or cat) comes in contact with a rabid or suspected rabid animal, the owner has two options:

1. Immediately re-vaccinate and confine the pet in a “no touch” double enclosure for six months
2. Euthanasia

If the domestic dog or cat is current on rabies vaccinations, the quarantine period is reduced to 30 days. If the wild animal has been captured and euthanized (do not shoot the animal in the head) then it may be tested to eliminate the confinement requirement. Keep the specimen cool, but not frozen, to control decay, scavenging, and insects, and contact the Environmental Health Division to arrange for testing.

Rabies is a frightening disease. But the anguish caused from contact between an unvaccinated pet and a possible rabid animal is entirely avoidable. Vaccinate your pets and keep them current on vaccinations. Consult with your veterinarian on the frequency for re-vaccination.

The Humboldt-Del Norte Veterinary Medical Association offers low cost rabies vaccination clinics as a public service. These clinics will be vaccinating dogs and cats at the cost of $7.00 per rabies vaccination. Other canine and feline vaccines are available with costs varying by the servicing clinic. If you have any question about the clinics, please contact the animal care facility sponsoring the clinic. Questions about rabies should be directed to the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Health Division at (707) 445-6215 or toll free at 1-800-963-9241. Report animal bites to the animal control agency for your jurisdiction.

The following is a list of scheduled vaccination clinics over the next several weeks:

Date Location Time
Wednesday, May 27 Mattole Grange (services by Ferndale Veterinary) 10 am - 12 noon
Saturday, May 30 Ferndale Veterinary 10 am - 12 noon
Friday, June 5 Sunny Brae Animal Clinic All day
Saturday, June 6 Arcata Small Animal Hospital 11am – 12 noon
Thursday, June 11 Eureka Veterinary 9 am – 12 noon
Saturday, June 13 Rio Dell City Hall (services by Dr. Anderson) 10 am – 11 am
Friday, June 19 Redwood Animal Hospital 9 am – 11 am
Friday, June 19 Fortuna Veterinary Clinic 9 am – 11 am


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