Rabid Dog

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Jackson County health officials say they've turned up their sixth case of rabies this year, but the first in a family pet.

Doctors at Bay Medical Center treated an entire family for rabies exposure on Christmas Eve after their dog became ill.

The dog had been licking them in the eyes and mouth, then began foaming at the mouth. It also showed signs of paralysis in its hind legs. The dog later died.

Experts say they examined the dog and it was positive for rabies. They believe the pet may have gotten the disease from a raccoon that recently died on the family's property.

Bill Dean says, "This is the first domestic animal. Raccoons are the major animal that we with rabies that are reported to us every year and then occasionally the rabies will spill from the wild animal population into the domestic animal population."

Here are a few tips for avoiding rabies.

Be aware that you don't have to be bitten to get rabies.

If you have a dead animal that may be infected call your local health department.

Never shoot an animal in the head. This makes it difficult to determine if it was infected, and remember to vaccinate your pets.

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What is Rabies?

  • Rabies virus causes an acute encephalitis in all warm-blooded animals.

  • All mammals are susceptible to the rabies virus.

  • The animals most known for carrying the virus include: raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes.

Transmission of Rabies

  • Transmission of rabies virus usually begins when the infected saliva of a host is passed to an uninfected animal.

  • Various routes of transmission include the eyes, nose, mouth, aerosol transmission, and corneal transplantations.

Symptoms of Rabies

  • First symptoms of rabies in humans may include flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, or malaise.

  • Other symptoms may include cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, and insomnia.

  • The acute period of the disease typically ends after 2 to 10 days.

  • Once clinical signs of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal.

  • There is only six documented cases of human survival from clinical rabies.

  • Disease prevention can be done following a bite from an infected animal, being injected with a vaccine (postexposure prophylaxis).
    • Every year an estimated 18,000 people receive preexposure prophylaxis.
    • Every year an estimated 40,000 people receive postexposure prophylaxis.

Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention contributed to this report