On May 13, 2013, a skunk in Sheridan County tested positive for rabies. The skunk was submitted by the Rushville Veterinary Clinic in Rushville. Nebraska reported 59 cases of rabies last year. The listing of positive cases in Nebraska for 2012 can be found at: http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/srd_rabies12.aspx. We have confirmed 14 cases in 2013, eight skunks, three bovines, one horse and two bats.
The risk of exposure to rabies is real, but the disease is preventable in both humans and domestic animals. In the US, there are around 7,000 animal rabies cases diagnosed every year. In the mid-West, skunks and bats are the main sources and the most common animal species positive for rabies. Domestic pets and livestock can be infected from exposure to these wildlife sources of rabies. Rabies prevention consists of vaccinating domestic animals, education of humans to avoid exposures, and providing exposed persons with prompt post-exposure rabies prophylaxis. The World Health Organization estimates that ~70,000 people die of rabies infection world-wide every year.
Local health experts offer these tips to prevent rabies.
- Have your veterinarian vaccinate all dogs, cats, ferrets, horses, and valuable livestock against rabies.
- If bitten by an animal, seek medical attention and report the bite to your local public health department or animal control department immediately.
- If your animal is bitten, contact your veterinarian for an appointment for the animal to be examined.
- Do not handle or feed wild animals. Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
- If wild animals appear sick or injured, call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
- Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
If you have additional questions, please contact your veterinarian, local or state health department.