Second Case of Area Rabies This Week

A rabies alert has been issued for Washington County.

Patty Justice, Administrator of the Health Department in Chipley, said the alert is in response to a confirmed rabid test in a wild raccoon earlier this week.

It is the first case of animal rabies reported in Washington County this year.

Ms. Justice says all citizens in the county should be aware that rabies is present in the raccoon population and to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in Washington County.

Just last weekend a Grand Ridge area family in Jackson County was treated for rabies exposure. Their family dog apparently contracted the disease from a rabid raccoon in the back yard.

Alerts are designed to bring a heightened awareness to the public, but they should not give a false sense of security to areas that are not under alert.

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, including and especially raccoons.

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. If treatment is started soon after the exposure, it almost always protects the person from the disease.

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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


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