Rabies reports from Colorado, Texas, and Virginia

Muskrat

Colorado  03/24/10  journal-advocate.com:  The Northeast Colorado Health Department has confirmed that two rabid wild animals were found in northeast Colorado last week, leading local health officials to urge area residents to be on their guard.  “A strain of skunk rabies has been circulating in this area for the past couple of years,” said Julie McCaleb, NCHD’s environmental health director. “This is a concern because it appears that this strain is now endemic to this region, meaning the potential for exposure of this deadly disease to humans, family pets and other wildlife is increasing.”

The first animal, a muskrat, attacked a resident in Morgan County on March 15, approximately four miles southwest of Brush. The muskrat was hiding in a goose nest and bit the resident as they were collecting eggs. The resident has been started on rabies post-exposure prophylaxis.  The second animal, a skunk, was recovered in Phillips County, approximately 17 miles southeast of Haxtun. The animal charged a homeowner and their dog on March 15, and wound up biting the dog. Since the dog had a current rabies vaccination, it was given a rabies booster shot and will be quarantined at the owners’ home for 45 days. This is Phillips County’s first confirmed case of rabies in a skunk.

NCHD has been monitoring the local spread of skunk rabies throughout northeast Colorado since 2007 when the first rabid skunk was discovered in Washington County. In 2008 Yuma County had two rabid skunks and in 2009 that number increased to five with an additional eight located in Morgan County. Since January 2010, there has been one rabid skunk reported in Morgan County.
“The appearance of a rabid skunk in Phillips County could mean that the strain is spreading,” said McCaleb. “Our biggest concern is that residents are aware that this rabies strain is dangerous and that they take the appropriate action now.”  The skunk strain of the rabies virus presents a higher health risk than the normal bat strain of rabies usually found in Colorado. While bat strains of rabies virus have limited risk of becoming established in other animal species and spreading to other wildlife and pets, skunk strains of rabies are different. The dynamics of where skunks live and how they behave and interact with other animals increases the risk of spillover infection to other wildlife.

Texas  03/25/10  tylerpaper.com:  A total of 11 people, including six children, are receiving a series of rabies shots after a 7-month-old terrier mix dog in the 20000 block of County Road 2162 in Troup was confirmed to have rabies.  Northeast Texas Health District officials said family and friends who had direct contact with the dog began receiving shots this week.  Officials said the dog was behaving strangely and then bit its owner Saturday. The dog was seen by a veterinarian Sunday and since the strange behavior continued, the dog was euthanized and sent to a lab to be tested for rabies. On Monday, public health officials advised the owner and everyone who came in contact with the dog to begin post-exposure rabies shots, although rabies was not confirmed until Tuesday. Brenda Elrod, deputy director of environmental health at NTPHD, said if exposed to rabies, there is only about a 10-day window to receive the post-exposure shots before a person becomes ill, hence the rush to give the shots before they knew if the dog had rabies.  Ms. Elrod said the terrier may have had contact with a rabid skunk and it had not been vaccinated for rabies.

Virginia  03/25/10  dailypress.com:  Newport News  — The health department issued a rabies alert Thursday for residents of Beaconsdale Lane after a raccoon tested positive for rabies. The area is near Deer Park and Mariner’s Park land.

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