Hill County Paw Pals, Hill County, Texas

Deadly Rabies Virus—Present and Dangerous in Hill County

Hill County has been designated a “rabies quarantine” county by Texas Department of Health Services because the rabies virus exists in our county.  Rabies is the most dangerous zoonotic disease (animal to human) known to man.  The rabies virus can affect any warm-blooded mammal.  Once rabies virus is inoculated into a muscle from a scratch or bite, it travels to the brain by moving within nerves—this phase is called the incubation period.  Physical symptoms of illness will not immediately appear during this incubation period which may last for weeks to months.  Only late in the disease, after the virus has reached the brain and multiplied there to cause an encephalitis (or inflammation of the brain), does the virus move from the brain to the salivary glands where transmission of the virus can occur.  Also at this time, after the virus has multiplied in the brain, the first signs of rabies will appear.  Most of these signs are obvious to even an untrained observer, but within a short period of time, usually within 3 to 5 days, the virus will have caused enough damage to the brain that unmistakable signs of rabies will appear—flu-like signs of malaise, fever, or headache, which may last for days.  There may be discomfort or paresthesia at the site of exposure (bite area), progressing within days to symptoms of cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, agitation, progressing to delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, and insomnia.  Once rabies symptoms appear, it is nearly 100% fatal in humans—again, the most dangerous zoonotic disease known to man. 

Based on a formula provided by the Humane Society of the United States some 11,325 dogs and 16,912 cats live within households as family pets within Hill County.  These figures do not include the thousands of homeless dogs and cats that are labeled as “strays”.  It is not known how many pets do not receive rabies vaccinations but official estimates run from 50-70% of pets being unvaccinated or not current on vaccinations.  Therefore, of Hill County’s total dogs and cats, some 14,118-19,765 of these household pets that live with families in Hill County remain unvaccinated for the deadly rabies virus.  Texas law directs all dogs and cats after four months of age be vaccinated against the rabies virus and remain current with annual or triennial boosters.  In fact, it is a criminal penalty if found in violation (Class C Misdemeanor which is a fine of up to $300).  If a person has been previously convicted, one can be subjected to a Class B Misdemeanor (up to $1,000 fine).  To avoid health and financial liabilities, it would be much cheaper and safer for your family and those living around you to make an appointment with your local veterinarian and have your pet vaccinated (again, it’s the law!).  Pet owners can also attend our low cost vaccination clinic which is held on the first Tuesday of each month from 10am-2pm (next clinic scheduled April 7.  Pet ownership requires responsibility.

If you would like to become involved with the efforts of Hill County Paw Pals to bring positive change to our county in way of correcting our pet overpopulation issue, please call (254) 580-0679 or email hcpawpals@yahoo.com.