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Rabies case confirmed in Johnson County

Wednesday, May 30, 2018  
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KINGSVILLE – Occupants of a Kingsville residence are undergoing rabies prevention treatment after one person was bitten by a dog that was confirmed to have the disease, authorities said.

Johnson County Community Health Services reported the dog’s owner and other people who may have been exposed to the potentially fatal disease were being treated after the Missouri Public Health Laboratory confirmed the case on Thursday.

Kingsville City Marshal Brian Hobbs said he received a call on Monday, May 21, about the bite, which reportedly occurred at 208 Atlantic St., but said he has not been able to contact the affected parties and had little information about the incident.

Scott Alvested, JCCHS communications director, said the dog’s owner was bitten, and the dog died a couple of days later.

He said the dog was taken to the Holden Animal Clinic and sent to the state lab to be tested.

JCCHS was notified of the potential rabies exposure on Wednesday, he said.

Authorities are not sure how the dog contracted the disease, but speculate it may have been bitten by a skunk or other wild animal.

A press released issued by JCCHS said that increased outdoor activity at this time of year raises the risk of being bitten or injured by animals and exposure to rabies.

Ronda Davis, R.N., JCCHS public health coordinator, said anyone who has been bitten by an animal, particularly a stray dog or cat or wild animal, should wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for 10 to 15 minutes.

If possible, the animal should be captured or confined so it can be quarantined or tested for rabies.

If the animal is destroyed, the head should not be damaged as that is the only specimen that can be tested for the presence of the rabies virus, she said.

Anyone receiving a bite should contact their physician to determine if medical care, such as antibiotics or a tetanus booster, is needed and to have a rabies assessment made.

The local public health agency also should be contacted to seek assistance in obtaining proper disposition of the biting animal.

The Missouri Department of Health and Human Services’ website lists two case of rabies to date this year, one in Greene County and one in Christian County. Both cases were in skunks.

The department reported 20 rabies cases in 2017, mostly in bats, with no cases reported in Johnson County.

Davis said the incidence of human rabies cases in the United States are not as common as they once were due to modern vaccinations for dogs and cats, improved public health and animal control practices and a more effective series of anti-rabies shots for persons bitten.

But she said the risk of rabies remains a potential health threat in Missouri and persons bitten by a potentially rabid animal should seek immediate medical evaluation.

More information about rabies is available on the Department of Health and Senior Services website.

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