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Rabies cases confirmed in Emporia-Greensville - Independent-Messenger: News

Rabies cases confirmed in Emporia-Greensville

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Posted: Friday, November 17, 2017 12:00 am

There have been two confirmed cases of rabies reported within a one-week time period in Greensville County. There was also another incident but it could not be determined if the animal was rabid but showed signs of it.

Local Animal Control Officer John Mise is hoping that this will not turn into an epidemic such as has happened in the past.

Several years ago there were eight cases reported locally in a short time, including one instance when a child was bitten by an animal thought to be rabid and had to have painful shots.

All pet owners are encouraged to have their dogs and cats vaccinated to prevent an out break. It has been several years since the local community had to be concerned about rabies and Mise would like to keep it that way.

He is seeing more and more cases of domesticated animals having rabies because pet parents are neglecting to get their pets vaccinated. If they come into contact with a rabid animal and haven’t been vaccinated the pet will have to be euthanized, he stressed.

One case involved a skunk on Lowground Road. After coming into contact with a rabid skunk a dog had to be euthanized because he had not been vaccinated against rabies. The dog killed the skunk, which tested positive for rabies, Mise said.

A week later a rabid raccoon was found on Zion Church Road. The raccoon went after the dog. However in this case, the dog had been vaccinated. The pet’s owner shot the raccoon, which tested positive for rabies.

There was a third reported incident but it could not be determined if a skunk on Spring Church Road was rabid although it exhibited signs of rabies. The animal was shot too many times for it to be tested.

Mise wants to encourage all pet parents to have their animals vaccinated against rabies before it is too late. The vaccinations are not very expensive, less than $20 usually. Often the veterinarian offices or other groups will hold vaccination clinics where you get your pets vaccinated for even less money.

Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes....but not always.

The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death.

The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.

You can’t be completely sure that an animal has rabies just by looking at it. Animals with rabies sometimes become aggressive; have seizures, and foam at the mouth because rabies causes them to drool a lot. They may even attack people and other animals or objects. Rabid animals also sometimes act confused and disoriented, show signs of paralysis, and make hoarse vocal sounds. They may also just stand and stare. Any wild animal that acts tame and friendly, or moves slowly so that you can get close to it should also raise suspicion of rabies.

If you are bitten by an animal, remember that one of the most effective ways to decrease the chance for infection is to wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water.

See your doctor for attention for any trauma due to an animal attack before considering the need for rabies vaccination.

Your doctor, possibly in consultation with your state or local health department, will decide if you need a rabies vaccination. Decisions to start vaccination, known as postexposure prophylaxis (PEP), will be based on your type of exposure and the animal you were exposed to, as well as laboratory and surveillance information for the geographic area where the exposure occurred.

If a bite or scratch by an owned dog, cat or ferret occurs, the owner of the offending animal must provide proof of vaccination against rabies.

All offending animals, regardless of vaccination status, will be confined for 10 days and observed daily for signs of rabies. The owner is to confine the animal in the home or at a veterinarian’s office. At the end of the confinement period the owner must provide the Department of Health with a completed biting/scratching animal affidavit, including information on the health and rabies vaccination history of the animal.

If the animal is unvaccinated the owner must have the animal vaccinated immediately after the 10-day confinement is completed and submit a completed biting/scratching animal affidavit to the Department of Health.

If the animal is still healthy after 10 days, there is no danger of rabies from that bite.