Veterinarians are getting ready for a series of rabies vaccination clinics in our area.

The medication is being offered at a lower cost to ensure as many pets as possible are vaccinated from the virus.

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department reports 36 animals tested positive for rabies in Tennessee last year.

In Hamilton County, more that 700 people were bitten by animals during the same time frame.

Even though none of them tested positive for rabies, health officials say that doesn't mean the virus isn't in our area.

Channel 3 reported on several rabies cases in North Georgia and East Ridge last year and that's why health officials say it's important to keep your pet's vaccinations up to date.

Starting Friday, you'll be able to get your dog or cat vaccinated at nearly 60 locations in Hamilton County through low cost rabies clinics.

Rabies is a virus that impacts the nervous system in mammals and is transmitted through saliva.

Once an infected animal shows symptoms of the disease, it's 100% fatal.

"Not only is it a legal requirement for all cats and dogs to be up to date on their rabies vaccines, rabies is basically uncontrolled in the wildlife population and so the way we can control it and be a buffer between the wildlife and us is through our pets so vaccinating your pets is really the only barrier between you contracting rabies directly through them or the wildlife," Jessica Bianco, President of the Hamilton County Veterinary Medical Association said.

This year's rabies clinics are scheduled for the following dates. All clinics are from 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.:
• Friday, April 20
• Saturday, April 21
• Wednesday, April 25
• Thursday, April 26 (Special Cat Only Clinics)
• Friday, April 27
• Saturday, April 28

For more information about clinic locations, please visit the Health Department's website for the detailed scheduled or call the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department's Environmental Health Services at (423) 209-8110.

McKamey Animal Center has a Rabies Clinic every Wednesday between 11:00 am & 5:00 pm. No appointment necessary. For more information, call (423) 305-6500.

To report stray, injured, abused, or neglected animals, contact the animal services in your jurisdiction. The Health Department does not provide animal removal services. All animal exposures (bites, scratches, open wounds) are required to be reported as soon as possible to the Health Department at (423) 209-8110.