.A Texas couple is undergoing rabies post-exposure prophylaxis after an abandoned puppy they adopted was diagnosed with rabies. They found the puppy outside and brought it into their house. One of them was subsequently bitten and they found out about the rabies diagnosis on Christmas eve.

One of the couple is quoted as saying "The doctor said ‘It was a good thing they didn’t wait until Monday, because it would have been too late. We couldn’t have given you the shot because it wouldn’t have done any good. You would have been dead within 48 hours." I really hope they completely misinterpreted what the doctor said, otherwise the doc has no clue about rabies. Prompt treatment is the goal, and you certainly don’t want to wait any longer than you have to, however rabies doesn’t kill in 48 hours, and you can start post-exposure treatment any time (just the sooner the better).

The couple also have seven other pets, who may also have been bitten. There wasn’t any comment about what’s happening to those pets. Hopefully they are properly vaccinated so they can be given a rabies vaccine booster and only undergo a short-term "quarantine" at home with the owners. (The alternative is immediate euthanasia or strict, long-term quarantine for months).

This isn’t a new scenario – adopting a stray animal then finding out it has rabies. The less you know about an animal at the time of adoption, the greater the risks. I’m certainly not saying don’t adopt a stray animal. But, if you are going to do it, recognize the risk, make sure you are in a low-risk household (everyone’s susceptible to rabies, but some people are at greater risk for other zoonotic diseases and stray adoptions should be avoided by them), get the animal examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible, and make sure that it gets examined by a veterinarian if it develops any signs of disease.

All this leads into another another story I read a few days ago. Basically, it was a feel-good story about someone who found some puppies, stopped by a nursing home (or similar facility) and the facility adopted one or more of the puppies. This demonstrates some good points (e.g. resident’s presumably had a great time watching the pups) and bad points (e.g. disease exposure, unknown temperament, injury risks from rambunctious puppies…) of animals in long-term care facilities. What if the puppies that were adopted by the home had rabies? It’s happened before, and you end up having to administer post-exposure prophylaxis to a large number of people that already have enough health issues and risks. Nursing homes and other facilities should never adopt stray animals. Hopefully we don’t see a news release in the next few weeks about widespread rabies exposure in that facility. 


 Video from wfaa.com