Health Department Warns of Rabies-Infected Dog

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The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) and the Garrard, Madison and Rockcastle County Health Departments, want to inform the public that a Garrard County dog tested positive for skunk variant rabies.

While the dog was not a stray, it was unvaccinated. Family members and vet clinic staff are receiving vaccinations to prevent infection. The rabies vaccine is very effective at preventing illness before or after exposure. 

“Rabies is a fatal but preventable disease,” said Dr. Kelly Giesbrecht, State Public Health Veterinarian for DPH. “Transmission occurs through direct contact with saliva or brain/nervous tissue with broken skin or mucus membranes and infects the central nervous system. Keeping pets vaccinated against rabies is a crucial step in rabies prevention.”

Rabies can present with a variety of symptoms. Early symptoms can include lethargy and vomiting, progressing to weakness, seizures, aggressiveness, difficulty breathing or swallowing along with other symptoms.

In Kentucky, rabies virus is known to be present in skunks and bats. The easiest and best way to prevent rabies is to keep your pets up to date on rabies vaccinations. This will not only protect your pets but will protect you and your family as well. Although cost of human vaccination after exposure varies, it can cost several thousand dollars and insurance may not always cover it.

Rabies is easy to prevent. Here are some key things to keep you and your family safe from rabies:

•             Keep your animals vaccinated against rabies.

•             Do not approach or feed wildlife.

•             Keep wildlife wild, do not attempt to tame them.

•             Keep wildlife out of your yard by covering food and garbage.

•             Report animal bites to your local health department.

•             Wash any bite wounds with soap and water for 5 minutes and seek medical attention.

•             Do not touch a bat.

•             If a bat is in your house while you are asleep, safely catch the bat and submit it for rabies testing through your local health department.

Remember, Kentucky law states that dogs, cats and ferrets are required to be kept up to date with a rabies vaccine and to report animal bites. If you have any questions, in Madison County contact: Marvin Dixon, Environmental Program Manager at the Madison County Health Department (859) 626-4249, or the State Public Health Veterinarian at 502-564-3418.