By Lacy HIlliard
The first case of rabies in Johnson County since 2009 has been reported and Animal Control Office Gary Phillips is urging residents to take appropriate measures.
A raccoon discovered in the Trade Community tested positive for raccoon variant rabies. Raccoons are one of the most common carriers of the deadly disease, which Phillips warns can be dangerous because raccoons can be social by nature. Other common carriers of the rabies virus include skunks, foxes and coyotes. Unvaccinated pets are at a high risk for contracting the disease therefore caution should also be exercised when handling stray cats and dogs.
Rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted through bodily fluids typically from a bite or scratch from an infected animal. It is classified as a zoonotic disease, which means that it can be passed between animals and humans. Over 90 percent of human rabies cases are as a result of a bite from an infected dog.
Vaccination is the best way to ensure the health and safety of household pets. Rabies clinics are often held throughout Johnson County where pets can receive the vaccine for around ten dollars. If an animal becomes infected with rabies it is always fatal.
Phillips stated that Johnson County residents shouldnt be afraid of the Trade rabies case but should instead take action to prevent an outbreak from occurring. He urged Johnson County residents to get their pets vaccinated, as it is the only means to fight against the deadly disease.
Animals infected with rabies may present visible symptoms and Phillips urges residents to report suspected rabid animals immediately. The first symptom that an animal may be infected with rabies is a notable change in behavior. In dogs this can include a change in the tone of the dogs bark and irritability. Other early symptoms in dogs can include fever and loss of appetite. The second phase of the disease as it presents in dogs is known as Mad Dog Syndrome and the symptoms presented can include constant growling and barking, dilated pupils, disorientation, erratic behavior, episodes of aggression, a facial expression showing anxiety and/or hyper alertness, no fear of natural enemies, restlessness, roaming, seizures, trembling and lack of muscle coordination. The third and final phase as it presents in dogs is known as the paralytic phase in which foaming at the mouth, paralysis of the jaw, throat and chewing muscles can occur. Signs that a wild animal may be infected with rabies can include unprovoked aggression, unusual friendliness, disorientation and aimless wandering, paralysis, and uncharacteristic vocalizations. Additionally, nocturnal animals witnessed out and about during the day could also be infected with rabies.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.
By Lacy HIlliard