Year’s first rabies case confirmed in southwest Nebraska

    Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department (SWNPHD) has confirmed the first positive rabies case in Nebraska for the year.
    “In 2016, a total of 19 confirmed rabies cases occurred in Nebraska,” said Melissa Propp, RN, Surveillance Coordinator at SWNPHD.
    “Southwest Nebraska had recorded 16 percent of the state’s total. We had 25 percent of the state cases in 2015 and continue to be an area of elevated concern.”
    This case of rabies involves a skunk and is located in Furnas County.
    “Rabies is a deadly virus infection that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals,” Propp said.
    People get rabies from the bite of an animal with rabies. Any wild mammal, like a raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote or bat can have rabies and transmit it to people.
    According to the Centers for Disease Control, rabies is a medical emergency. Any wounds should be immediately washed with soap and water. The person should also receive medical attention from a health care professional.
    “Vaccination is the best protection for keeping your pets safe,” states Propp.
    SWNPHD recommends that residents contact a veterinarian to make sure their pet’s vaccinations are current. In addition, people should be careful around stray or strange animals. If an animal bites you, and it is safe to do so, catch the animal and contact your veterinarian for testing. It may save you the pain and cost of rabies vaccinations.
    Animals with rabies may act differently from healthy animals, and wild animals may move slowly or may act as if they are tame. A pet that is usually friendly may snap or  try to bite.
    Anyone around an animal which displays any of the following signs of rabies should move to safety:
    Increased drooling
    Problems swallowing
    General sickness
    Changes in the animal’s behavior
    If a dead wild animal may have infected your pets:
    Remove the animal from the area by using a shovel, wearing gloves and placing carcass in a plastic bag.
    Wash hands in soap and water after taking off the gloves.
    Avoid direct contact between the carcass and the person.
    Disinfect tools, cages, gloves and other surfaces potentially contaminated with saliva, nervous tissue or blood with a 10 percent solution of household bleach in water
    Contact a local veterinarian and public health department regarding rabies testing and exposures.

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