ProMed’s latest accumulation of rabies reports has the typical mix of domestic animal and wildlife rabies cases, and some recurring themes.
Fox / dog / human, North Carolina
In this case, a rabid fox had a "direct encounter" with several people, then it was killed by a dog. Three people have started post-exposure treatment.
- The article states that the dog was vaccinated against rabies, which is good to hear. However, it goes on to say that exposed pets need to be euthanized or have a 6 month quarantine. In reality, standard guidelines are that unvaccinated pets are treated like this while vaccinated pets undergo a less rigourous 45 day observation at home. Hopefully the discrepancy is simply due to inaccurate reporting and not misinterpretation of guidelines by local officials.
Cat / human, Maryland
A rabid stray cat scratched five people, who have been urged to undergo post-exposure treatment. Officials are calling for anyone who potentially had contact with this cat go to an emergency room.
- However, odds are if someone goes to an emergency room and says they might have had contact with this cat, they’re just going to sit around until someone tells them they don’t know what needs to be done, or to go home and deal with someone else. Rabies exposure is a medical urgency, not an emergency. People should take a little extra time to work with their physician and/or public health rather than go to the emergency room.
- People who may have had contact with the cat need a proper assessment to determine if they were potentially exposed to rabies, since just being around the cat or having casual contact is not a risk. Scratches are a bit controversial since they are low risk for rabies transmission (unless the scratches become contaminated with saliva from the animal), and there are conflicting guidelines regarding what to do for a person who is scratched.
- This is also a good reminder to stay away from stray cats.
Fox / human, Pennsylvania
In this report, authorities are trying to find a person that cradled an injured fox in a blanket. The fox was subsequently identified as rabid and they need to determine whether the person was potentially exposed to the virus.
- Again, another reminder to stay away from wildlife, and if there is contact with wildlife, make sure rabies exposure is considered.
Bat / human, Indiana
A student was bitten by a rabid bat while he slept in an Indiana University dorm room. He woke up after being bitten (good thing, since he probably wouldn’t have noticed otherwise due to the often tiny marks left by a bat bite). He is now receiving post-exposure treatment.
Rabies isn’t going away, at least any time soon. People need to be aware of the risks in rabies-endemic areas, take care around wildlife and vaccinate their pets.
Photo credit: Rob Lee (click for source)