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Rabies update & bite protocol

Dr. Conrad Nightingale

Dr. Conrad Nightingale
BC Rabies Control Officer

Cases of animal and human rabies are reported annually within the United States and have been notifiable nationally since 1944. Rabies is entirely preventable if post-exposure prophylaxis is administered in a timely manner after a suspected rabies exposure.
Rabies is a viral zoonosis affecting the central nervous system of warm-blood animals and humans. Transmission occurs when saliva containing rabies virus is introduced into an opening in the skin by a bite or a scratch of a rabid animal. Transmission can also occur through contamination of mucous membranes or organ transplant.
For human patients who have never received rabies vaccination, the post-exposure prophylaxis series consists of immediate wound washing, infiltration of the wound with human rabies immune globulin and administration of four intramuscular doses of cell culture vaccine in the deltoid muscle on days 0, 3, 7, and 14.
The post-exposure prophylaxis series for patients who were previously immunized consists of two booster doses of rabies vaccine on days 0 and 3.
Since 2003, 34 cases of human rabies have been diagnosed in the United States.
In 2014, 1.132 - 9 percent - of 12,356 animal specimens in Texas were tested positive for rabies. This was a 21 percent increase in cases from the 937 cases confirmed in 2013. Bats were the primary source of positive cases reported in 2014, followed by skunks and raccoons.
In 2014, Bandera County had one positive case of each - bat, skunk and raccoon.
Additionally, statewide in 2014, there were 22 positive rabid cats, 14 dogs, 15 bovine, 11 horses and 1 goat. This shows an increase in domestic animals in 2014 in almost every category.
County residents should be aware that feeding domestic small animals outside enclosures will attract wildlife and feral cats and increase the potential of exposure to rabid animals and other diseases.
Since the county's long-term drought, exposure to wildlife searching for food has increased. Any bite or scratch by a wild or domestic animal should be reported to health officials, city or county animal control, school nurse or to Bandera County Rabies Control Officer Dr. Conrad Nightingale.
Any animal that bites a person must be examined by a veterinarian within 24 hours and a bite report submitted by the appropriate authorities to the rabies control officer. This requirement is for all animals whether currently vaccinated or not.