Rabies reports from California, Connecticut, Kansas, North Carolina, and Texas.

Courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

California 12/30/10 humboldtbeacon.com: A dog in the Bridgeville area recently tested positive for rabies and Humboldt County health officials are urging animal owners to make sure their pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.  The Bridgeville dog was the first rabies case in a domestic animal in Humboldt County since 1989. It is believed the dog came in contact with a rabid skunk several months ago. The dog died around Dec. 22, a few days after displaying symptoms. Rabies is found in wild animals and can spread to unvaccinated domestic animals.  As a precaution, five people who came in contact with the dog started post-exposure treatment over last weekend. Treatment costs entail more than $2,000 and involve four visits to an emergency room within a two-week period.  Four other unvaccinated pets that had contact with the dog were euthanized per California regulations. State regulation mandates either euthanasia or immediate vaccination with a minimum six-month quarantine in a manner approved by the local health officer.  In 2009, 36 foxes and two skunks tested positive for the rabies virus in Humboldt County. In 2010, there have been three positive animals — two foxes and this current positive dog. Rabies has been found in wild animals in all areas of Humboldt County.  Rabies in humans can be prevented either by eliminating exposure to rabid animals or by providing exposed persons with prompt local treatment of wounds combined with rabies post exposure treatment.  Questions regarding possible exposures should be directed to the Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Branch Environmental Health Division at 445-6215, or toll-free at 1-800-963-9241.

Connecticut  01/02/11 newcanaannewsonline.com: by Joe Gould – Danbury

Woodchuck. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

–  City health officials are afraid that someone who put a rabid woodchuck in a box last weekend may have contracted rabies and doesn’t know it.  According to Health Director Bill Campbell, an Oxford couple left Elan’s of Connecticut, a Federal Road gentleman’s club, last Saturday night, found a woodchuck in a box outside and took it home with them. Shortly thereafter, the animal tested positive for rabies at the Shoreline Animal Hospital in Stratford. Campbell would not release the names of the couple, but said that they were receiving preventive medical treatment. Health authorities are looking for the person who put the woodchuck in the box. That person may need preventive treatment as well, and authorities would like to evaluate him. A woman at Elan’s, who identified herself only as a co-owner, said that the woodchuck ambled toward the entrance and died before a patron scooped it into a box. Customers and employees were advised to stay clear of it. Apparently the Oxford couple picked it up after that. The woman said she could not know the names of anyone who had handled the large rodent, but it was important that they and local residents be warned that the woodchuck was rabid. According to Campbell, even if the person was not bitten, “someone could have been exposed to saliva from the muzzle or coat. They could have rubbed their eye or otherwise got it into their mucus membrane.” The bad news for that person is that rabies is a fatal disease of the central nervous system for which there is no cure. Symptoms include a painful loss of neurological control and paralysis. “There’s nothing you can do at that stage,” Campbell said. The good news is that doctors can apply preventive treatment within 14 days of exposure. The vaccination is no longer administered via an abdominal injection. The last case of rabies in Connecticut was in Greenwich, Campbell said. Campbell recommended against ever handling wild animals. “Don’t handle wild animals who are injured or acting strangely,” he said. “Leave them alone.” Ÿ Anyone who handled the woodchuck is asked to call Paul Schierloh, of the city health department, at (203) 797-4625.

Kansas 12/27/10 hutchnews.com: by Clara Kilbourn – A confirmed case of rabies found in a skunk the week before Christmas has Reno County veterinarians and health officials emphasizing the importance of pet and livestock vaccinations.  Dayul Dick, with the South Hutchinson Prairie Vista Veterinary Hospital on Main Street, said a report of a skunk in contact with a dog one mile west of Hutchinson led to the confirmation of rabies.  “In this case, fortunately, the owner of the pets and livestock had all the animals vaccinated,” Dick said. “It’s too early to tell, but we think because of that we will have a good outcome.”   Dick said the family had a pet dog housed in an outside cage. The skunk ate through the cage to get inside with the dog and the dog killed it, a direct exposure to the disease.  Because rabies can be transmitted from one species of mammals to another, an infected animal can potentially spread the disease to a person through saliva. Rabies can be fatal when contracted by an animal or person, said Judy Seltzer, Reno County Health Department director.   Dick named wild animals, such as skunks, raccoons, bats and foxes, as the most common rabies carriers. Any change of behavior in nocturnal animals can be an indication of rabies, he said.  “If you see a skunk acting strange during daylight hours that can be an indication,” Dick said.   Owners of pets and other livestock should follow the recommendations of their veterinarian as to the frequency of a rabies booster shot.   “Even in the proximity of being in town we recommend that pets be vaccinated to keep them safe,” he said.   The number of rabies cases is difficult to estimate because some wild animals die before they are diagnosed.   “The importance is that rabies is still a disease in this area,” Dick said. “Even under the radar it is serious enough we don’t want the public exposed.”   Dick further cautioned against leaving dog food outside – which is almost certain to attract wild animals looking for a free meal.   Seltzer recommended notifying a physician or the county health department if a person comes in contact with an animal behaving in a suspicious manner.   “If a dead skunk is found, it is wise to have it tested through a veterinarian,” she said.   Seltzer contrasted the cost of having a pet vaccinated against the expense of shots available for a person who has potentially been exposed to rabies.  She also pointed out that Reno County has a resolution that domestic pets like cats, dogs and ferrets are to be vaccinated.

North Carolina 12/30/10 wral.com: The Town of Cary has reported its first case of rabies this year, animal control officials said Thursday.  On Tuesday, a homeowner in the 300 block of Vintage Hill Circle contacted Cary Animal Control to report that two dogs had chased a fox under his deck.  Police responded and transported the dead fox for testing at the State Laboratory of Public Health in Raleigh. The town was notified Thursday that the fox was infected with the rabies virus.  While the dogs didn’t appear to be injured, officials are checking their vaccination status and taking any necessary precautions, officials said.  The last reported case of rabies in Cary was in September 2009.

Texas 12/31/10 tylerpaper.com: by Kelly Gooch— Pet owners are encouraged to look out for their animals’ well-being after a state agency confirmed that a skunk in East Texas tested positive for rabies.  Troup City Administrator Jed Dilling­ham said the skunk was found Dec. 21 be­tween Troup and Arp, near Texas Highway 135.  Once the animal was captured, it was euthanized and sent to a Texas Department of State Health Services lab for testing.  Dillingham said the animal control officer on Thursday informed him that it tested positive for rabies.  “There are always calls for animals,” he said. “Sometimes they’re raccoons, sometimes cats and sometimes skunks. This one just happened to be rabid.”  Now, he said, the city is exercising a greater degree of awareness in identifying animals at large rather than waiting for a resident to make a complaint.  Officials said pet owners also should make sure their animals have current rabies vaccinations.  “We certainly don’t want someone to lose a pet to the disease when it could have been prevented,” Dillingham said. They should “just (be) aware that there was a confirmed case of the disease, and (be) vigilant and (keep) eyes on animals so they can take care of them and keep them safe.”  Brenda Elrod, of the Northeast Texas Public Health District, said there were ab­out six rabies cases involving skunks this year in Smith County.  She said the county is known for having a population of skunks and bats that carry the virus.  “We still can have rabies in the area,” Ms. Elrod said. “That’s why it’s important (residents) keep their animals vaccinated because that’s a buffer in passing the virus onto a domestic animal and exposing children and other pets.”  She noted an incident in March when a 7-month-old dog in Troup was confirmed to have rabies from a skunk, which ultimately led to people having to get shots.  A dog also came in contact with the skunk that was confirmed to have rabies this week.  Ms. Elrod said the dog will remain in isolation for 45 days. At that point, it can be determined whether the dog caught the disease.  She said no one received bites or had to be vaccinated in the recent incident.  However, they cautioned people not to handle wildlife and to file a report if they come in contact with animals that appear to have rabies.

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