Neighboring County Health Department Issues Rabies AlertJun 2nd, 2011 | By Staff | Category: Outdoors
By Fran Hunt
Special from ECB Publisihing, Inc.
The neighboring Jefferson County Health Department (JCHD) issued a Rabies Alert in Jefferson County last week, which will remain in effect for the next 60 days, after a Jefferson County man was attacked.
The JCHD Environmental Health was notified of a possible rabid bobcat in the Lloyd area. On the evening of May 18 the victim reported an attack by a bobcat. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Jefferson County Animal Control acquired the bobcat for testing.
On May 20, the bobcat tested (FRA) positive (rabies) with (MAb) still pending. The victim began PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) treatment after presenting to the Emergency Department.
JCHD Administrator Kim Barnhill, has issued a rabies alert for Jefferson County. This is in response to the bobcat that tested positive for rabies reported on May 20, 2011.
All citizens in Jefferson County should be aware that rabies is present in the wild animal population and domestic animals are at risk if not vaccinated.
The public is asked to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in Jefferson County. The recent rabies alert is for 60 days.
Rabies is a deadly infection that can be prevented but not cured. The rabies virus spreads to people from the saliva of infected animals and it is usually transmitted through a bite. If an animal bites you, there is no time to lose. You should wash the wound gently and thoroughly with soap and generous amounts of water, and seek medical care immediately,” – warned Barnhill.
An animal with rabies could infect other wild animals or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated against rabies. All domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies and all wildlife contact should be avoided, particularly raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes.
Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm-blooded animals and humans. The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies specific immune globulin and rabies immunization. Appropriate treatment started soon after the exposure, will protect an exposed person from the disease.
The following advice is issued:
• All pets should have current rabies immunizations.
• Secure outside garbage in covered containers to avoid attracting wild animals.
• Do not leave pet food outside. This also attracts other animals.
• For questions regarding the health of an animal, contact a veterinarian.
• Veterinarian staff and animal control staff should be alert for animals encountered with sign suspicious of rabies and use appropriate precautions, especially when working with unvaccinated animals.
• Persons who have been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and report the injury to the Madison County Health Department, Environmental Health Office at (850) 973-5000
• Rabies is preventable when treatment is provided in a timely manner.
• Avoid contact with all wildlife, especially raccoons, bats, and foxes.
• No animal is too young to have rabies.
• For general questions pertaining to animals, contact the Madison County Health Department at (850) 973-5000.
Madison Veterinary Clinic offers the rabies vaccines for animals. Appointments are preferred but walk-ins are welcome. Call (850) 973-3100 for further information.
A pet that had just been bitten or scratched by a rabid animal may take several weeks to months to develop rabies.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), rabies is one of the most feared zoonoses because it nearly always results in fatal, acute encephalitis. This disease is usually transmitted to humans when the virus is introduced into an open wound or abrasion of the skin or mucous membranes following exposure to the saliva of a rabid animal. The first known human case of rabies in Florida was recorded as “hydrophobia” on a death certificate of a 38-year old white male from Key West in 1881. A total of 73 human cases of rabies have been reported as Florida-acquired cases since then, with the last case seen in 1948. This was a black male from Tampa, FL, who refused treatment from the local health department after being bitten by a neighbor’s dog. More recently, two additional human cases reported in adult males during 1994 and 1996 were found to have had exposure to dogs in Haiti and Mexico respectively.
Between the turn of the century and World War II, rabies outbreaks in dogs became quite common throughout the state. The disease in dogs was finally brought under control in the early 1950s as public concern resulted in the passage of rabies vaccination and animal control laws in many Florida cities and counties. Vaccination of cats was not initially included in many local animal control ordinances; however, it is now required as part of a statewide rabies ordinance passed by the legislature in 1994. Rabies in raccoons and other wildlife is now endemic throughout most of the state.
In 2005, there were 201 confirmed cases of animal rabies reported in Florida compared to 205 in 2004, and 188 cases reported during 2003. Rabid animals were identified in 38 counties in 2005, and eight counties reported 10 or more cases. The majority of cases were among wild animals, especially raccoons (N=108, 54%), foxes (N=29, 14%) and bats (N=28, 14%). Rabid bobcats (N=2), skunks (N=2) and an otter were also recorded. Since 1988, the number of rabies cases in cats continues to outnumber dogs. In 2005, 26 rabid cats and five rabid dogs were reported.
No beavers, cattle or horses were found rabid this year. The urban/suburban epizootics of raccoon rabies that spill over into foxes, bobcats, otters, feral cats, dogs and horses present unique control problems for local authorities.
Recommendations for the prevention and treatment of rabies published by the CDC6 are endorsed by the DOH. After immediate cleansing of a wound following exposure, post-exposure treatment consists of a human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) series in conjunction with Human Diploid Cell Vaccine (HDCV. Imovax), Diploid Fetal Rhesus-Lung Cell Vaccine (RAV, Michigan Department of Public Health), or Chick Embryo Cell Vaccine (PCEC, RabAvert). Persons in occupations at risk for exposure are encouraged to have pre-exposure prophylaxis with HDCV or PECE with scheduled boosters. HRIG, HDCV and PCEC may be obtained through all DOH County Public Health Departments and most major hospitals.
Animals with rabies may show strange behavior. They can be aggressive, attacking for no apparent reason, or act very tame (especially wild animals). They may not be able to eat, drink or swallow. They may drool because they have difficulty swallowing. They may stagger or become paralyzed. Rabies will kill most animals.
Rabid raccoons have been reported most frequently, followed by bats and foxes.
Since the 1980s, rabid cats were reported more frequently than rabid dogs.
Rabid bobcats, skunks, otters, horses, cattle and ferrets have also been reported.
Immediately scrub the wound with lots of soap and running water for five to ten minutes. Try to get a complete description of the animal and determine where it is so that it can be picked up by animal control staff for quarantine or rabies testing. Go to your family doctor or the nearest emergency room. Call your county health department or animal control agency with the animal’s description and location. The animal will either be quarantined for ten days (if it is a dog, cat or ferret) or be tested for rabies.
If you kill the animal, be careful not to damage the head and avoid further contact with the animal even when it is dead.
Have your veterinarian vaccinate all of your dogs, cats, ferrets and horses against rabies, and make sure you follow your veterinarian’s instructions for revaccination.
Do not allow your pets to run free. Follow leash laws by keeping pets and livestock secured on your property. Support animal control in your community.
If your animal is attacked by a wild, stray or unvaccinated animal, DO NOT examine your pet for injuries without wearing gloves. DO wash your pet with soap and water to remove saliva from the attacking animal. DO NOT let your animal come into contact with other animals or people until the situation can be handled by animal control or county health department staff.
For further information about rabies go to http://www.myfloridaeh.com/medicine/rabies/rabies-index.html or http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/