HELENA – The Lewis and Clark County Board of Health is suggesting proposed rules and regulations to prevent and control rabies.
According to the Health Department, right now they can only regulate vicious or nuisance animals. There is no requirement for a rabies vaccination, quarantine for disease control or any other proper measures for preventing human rabies exposure.
Rabies is a deadly disease transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. The virus is treatable if caught early.
Health experts say most cases are contracted through wild animals like raccoon’s, bats, and foxes. Yet domesticated pets and live stock are still at risk and can pass the virus to humans.
A a news release from the City-County Board of Health states “All dogs, cats, and ferrets would have to be vaccinated against rabies and get regular booster shots. Owners of these animals would be prohibited from selling or giving away their pet if it isn’t vaccinated. Law enforcement, health-care officials, and veterinarians would be required to report potential rabies exposures to the health department. LCPH would be responsible for investigating the incidents and responding as appropriate to keep people healthy and safe. Anyone violating the rules would be subject to a fine ranging from $10 to $200.”
Eric Merchant, Disease Control Prevention Administrator for Lewis and Clark County Health Department, stated “Rabies is a potentially big problem in our county. It’s important to understand that if a person is infected with Rabies and it gets to a point where the person is symptomatic, that person will die. Rabies is fatal. So, we have to understand that it does exist within our county, primarily in the bat population, that population can affect other animals within our jurisdiction, and it’s really important to understand that, that could be a human being.”
The City County Board of Health in Helena is taking public comment through March 1st.
A public hearing will be held Feb 28 at 1 p.m. in room 330 at the City-County Building, 316 North Park Ave.
Reporting by Christine Sullivan for MTN News