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Rabid bat found in Fresno; clinic set for Saturday

Testing of a dead bat found in downtown Fresno last week confirmed it had rabies, according to Fresno County Department of Public Health.

The disease chiefly affects wild animals, but can also infect pets and humans, according to the state’s Department of Health. Vaccination after possible exposure can stop progression of the disease, but once symptoms emerge there is no cure and the disease is fatal.

Rabies vaccines for dogs and cats will be available for $10 through a Friends of Madera Animal Shelter vaccine clinic from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Madera District Fairgrounds, 1850 W. Cleveland Ave. Other vaccines for dogs and cats will be available at a reduced cost. Dogs must be on a leash and cats in a crate or carrier.

Rabies vaccinations do not provide pets long-term immunity and require periodic booster shots, according to the World Health Organization.

Recently revised local ordinances require Madera County dogs to have a rabies vaccination and be licensed once they are four months old. Licenses and vaccinations for cats are optional. Licensing helps lost pets return to their homes and also tracks rabies vaccination rates in Madera County, according to Kirsten Gross, director of Madera County Animal Services.

Rabies is known to be in the local area. Madera County had a mild rabies outbreak in the first few months of 1935, during which six dogs showed cleared symptoms of the disease and were quarantined, according to the Madera Daily Tribune. More recently, a skunk tested positive for rabies in the North Fork area three years ago, and the state’s Department of Public Health declared Madera and Fresno counties to both be “rabies areas” in January. The declaration means rabies is known to exist in the areas and is a public health hazard.

For information on the vaccine clinic, call Friends of Madera Animal Shelter at 363-5106.

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