McCOOK, Nebraska -- A calf from Hitchcock County has tested positive for rabies.
The calf was submitted for testing by Dr. Cort V. Mohr, DVM of the Four Winds Animal Clinic in McCook and came back positive for rabies on July 24.
Mohr said younger animals such as the calf are typically inquisitive and probably became infected with rabies when making contact with a skunk or raccoon.
Skunks, raccoons and bats are the main source of rabies in the Midwest, which is why wild animals should not be adopted as pets, Mohr said. There is also no vaccination to prevent rabies from occurring in wild animals, who can carry the virus for years, he added. Any wild animal acting strangely should be avoided, such as nocturnal raccoons and skunks that appear mid-day.
This is the first confirmed case of rabies in the area in 2013, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Nebraska HHS have confirmed 28 cases of rabies in Nebraska for 2013, with 10 skunks, six bovines, one llama, one horse, one dog, 3 three cats and four bats.
The listing of positive cases in Nebraska for 2012 can be found at: http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/srd_rabies12.as....
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.