Cook County Animal and Rabies Control Announces Its 10th Year Of Low-Cost Rabies Vaccine Clinics

Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control will begin its 2016 rabies clinics at the site of its inaugural 2006 season in Crestwood. The inaugural low-cost rabies vaccine clinic of 2016 will take place June 7 from 10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at the Southwest Ice Arena, 5550 W. 127th St., Crestwood. It is the first of more than 30 clinics scheduled throughout suburban Cook County and Chicago. A full schedule of where and when the rabies clinics will take place in the coming months is posted on the department’s website. The rabies shot is the only vaccine that will be provided at these clinics. Cost of a one-year rabies shot is $7 for dogs and cats; a three-year rabies shot is $21. Ferret vaccines, which last one-year, are $9. Only cash or checks are accepted; no credit or debit cards. Dr. Donna Alexander, administrator of the County’s Animal and Rabies Control Department, emphasized the importance of ensuring that dogs, cats and ferrets are up to date on their rabies immunization. “The clinic addresses a serious public health issue,” she said. “If your dog, cat or ferret is bitten by a rabid animal, this shot will prevent them from getting rabies and passing it on to other animals or to humans.” The low-cost rabies vaccine program uses a mobile clinic that travels the County, providing a required life-protecting vaccine to companion animals and in support of general public health. World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized rabies as the fifth-largest cause of deaths in humans worldwide. The United States has only had three cases of death by rabies in humans in the past 10 years due to the continuing requirement of rabies vaccines for farm and companion animals. Cook County began its program of making available the rabies vaccine at an affordable cost in areas accessible to those in need of their services in 2006. The mobile clinic was the idea of Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy, who offered the Crestwood parking lot as the first site. Cook County is unique in providing these services via mobile clinics. When Cook County began the program, areas of need were discussed with elected officials, local animal control agencies and the DePaul GIS program where socio-economic needs and veterinarian availability were considered, Dr. Alexander said. Prior to the Canine Influenza Virus epidemic of 2015, Cook County Animal Control visited more than 40 locations each year. This year, clinics will be slightly curtailed due to precautions necessary to protect companion animals against communicable diseases. “Unlike other animal-intense venues, we did not eliminate our program because we recognize the dire public health need of the program,” said Dr. Alexander. “We have had to impose restrictions on animals attending our events to ensure the health of all animals attending.” Cook County is taking special precautions due to the highly infectious canine flu. Dogs at the rabies clinics will not be allowed to socialize; retractable leashes are not allowed, but all dogs must be leashed using a straight leash or the animal must be in a carrying case; no indoor facilities will be used and the vaccine will not be administered in your vehicle. Any dog showing symptoms of illness will be moved away from other dogs. The program in its first year vaccinated 1,802 animals. In 2015, the County vaccinated 5,344 animals. The total number of animals vaccinated by the County at the low-cost clinics since its inception is 36,361. Dr. Alexander and her department staff handle all elements of staging the clinics, from finding locations, to promoting them to, in Dr. Alexander’s case, administering the shots.