11/09/10 — Rabies kills puppy in county

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Rabies kills puppy in county

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 9, 2010 1:46 PM

Rabies in animals is still a concern in Wayne County, with a case reported late last week at a Mount Olive veterinary office.

A puppy from the Newton Grove area of Sampson County was brought to Waylin Animal Clinic Nov. 3 and died during examination, said Vicki Falconer, Wayne County animal control director. The animal was sent to the state lab, where results were returned the following day. It was learned later that two of the litter of eight puppies had died.

By week's end, four rabies shots had been given to those exposed to the rabid puppy, Ms. Falconer said.

There are two lessons to be learned from the case, said James Roosen, health director -- prevent your pets from having contact with wild animals and vaccinate a pet as soon as possible, depending on the pet's age.

Rabies is transmitted by a virus and found in raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs and cats, Roosen said, and will affect most mammals that can transmit the virus through saliva.

Animals that transmit rabies, however, do not always show signs of an illness and can appear healthy before exhibiting symptoms. In humans, those symptoms include headache, fever, nausea and paralysis.

Anyone bitten by an animal that might have rabies is advised to wash the wound thoroughly, then apply an antibiotic and seek immediate care.

"With this particular case, animal control will need to thoroughly investigate which animals and humans have had exposure," Roosen said. "There is a post-exposure vaccination that can be used for humans, but I'm not sure about animals."

Dr. Osbone Wilder, a veterinarian at Berkeley Veterinary Clinic in Goldsboro, said the case from Waylin illustrates the fact that rabies "is still out there."

"In animals, wide ranges for incubation have been reported -- three weeks to six months for dogs and two to six weeks for cats," he said. "Apparently, dogs have shown the ability to excrete rabies in saliva as early as 13 days prior to onset of their clinical signs."

If a previously vaccinated dog or cat is exposed to a rabid animal, he explained, a booster of the rabies vaccine may be sufficient and animal control may mandate some type of home quarantine. If the animal is not up to date on the rabies vaccination, he said the quarantine period could be extensively longer, up to six months.