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Rabies Vaccinations Urged

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- An increase in the number of animal rabies cases in Oklahoma prompted state health officials on Thursday to urge pet owners to make sure their animals are vaccinated.

In the first four months of 2007 there have been 31 confirmed cases of animal rabies reported in Oklahoma, nearly half of the 69 confirmed cases in the state in all of 2006, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

"Our animal disease surveillance is indicating nearly double the number of animal rabies cases in 2007 compared to the number we observed in 2006 at this same time of year," said Deputy State Epidemiologist and State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Kristy Bradley.

"We want to remind animal owners of the importance of keeping their pets up-to-date on rabies vaccinations, not only to protect their pets, but to protect their families from potential exposure to rabies and costly, post-exposure rabies shots."

So far, 27 skunks, 3 cattle and 1 dog have tested positive for rabies.

Oklahoma's rules and regulations require owners have their dogs, cats, and ferrets vaccinated against rabies by a veterinarian by the time the animal is four months old.

The interval between rabies vaccinations and booster shots depend on the age of the animal, type of vaccine, and city licensing codes.
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