Editorial

Wild animals, rabies deserve careful attention

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

We were chasing down unofficial reports of a coyote, possibly with rabies or distemper, being killed in the McCook city limits, and regardless of what we find out, itís a good reminder that rabies is a serious problem.

he Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department recently received its fifth confirmed case of rabies, this one in Hayes County, all of them involving skunks.

While the last known human rabies death in Nebraska was in 1926, itís a fatal, viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals, usually contracted from the bite of a rabid animal.

The most important step is to contact a local veterinarian to make sure your petís vaccinations are current.

Avoid direct contact between any dead wild animal that may have infected your pets. Wear gloves, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water after taking off your gloves and use a bleach solution to disinfect any tools or surfaces that were potentially contaminated with saliva, nervous tissue or blood.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider rabies contact to be a medical emergency, and any wound should be immediately washed and receive medical attention from a healthcare professional.

Animals with rabies may act differently from healthy animals, moving more slowly or acting as if they are tame. A pet that is usually friendly may snap at you or may try to bite.

Some signs of rabies in animals are:

* changes in an animalís behavior

* general sickness

* problems swallowing

* increased drooling

* aggression

If you discover a dead wild animal that may have infected your pets:

* remove the animal from the area by using a shovel, wearing gloves and placing carcass in a plastic bag

* be sure to wash your hands in soap and water after taking off your gloves

* all measures must be taken to avoid direct contact between the carcass and the person

* tools, cages, gloves and other surfaces potentially contaminated with saliva, nervous tissue or blood can be disinfected with a 10 percent solution of household bleach in water

* contact your local veterinarian in regards to rabies testing

* all livestock rabies exposures must be reported to the State Veterinarian

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