Local Dog Found To Have Rabies

A local dog which had likely been bitten by a skunk was recently found to have rabies.

The dog was the pet of a family who reportedly lives in the vacinity of Cannon County High School.

“We have confirmed a case of rabies in a dog in Cannon County,” Bill Christian, Associate Director, Communications and Media Relations, Tennessee Department of Health said Thursday.

“The dog had recently been adopted by a family and was not known to have been vaccinated when it became sick,” Christian added. “Reports indicate that there was contact with a skunk several weeks before the dog became ill.

“While no one was bitten, a juvenile in the family had repeated close contact with the dog and we are recommending the child get prophylactic treatment as a precaution,” Christian said.

Christian added the state health department will continue to work with the family to provide guidance as needed.

Christian also said the Tennessee Department of Health would like to remind everyone to keep their pets up to date on rabies vaccinations.

According to Dr. Gayle Tate of the Cannon County Animal Clinic, the dog had to be euthanized. A test by the state health department confirmed the canine had rabies.

Dr. Tate said a case of canine rabies is rare in Cannon County.

“This is the first case I have seen in quite a few years,” Dr. Tate said. “We have skunk cases on a regular basis but it is extremely unusual for a dog in town to have rabies."

Rabies is a deadly virus that is transmitted by bites from an infected animal. Rabies can be prevented if treated promptly before symptoms develop. Left untreated, rabies is nearly always fatal. Although rabies in humans is very rare in theUnited States today, up to 40,000 people each year receive preventive treatment following an exposure.

In Tennessee and elsewhere in the U.S., the number of rabies cases in domestic animals has declined dramatically due to mandatory vaccination laws for dogs and cats. However, rabies among wildlife (especially skunks, bats, and raccoons) has become more prevalent. The higher the incidence of rabies in wildlife, the greater the risk to domestic animals who act as a buffer zone between wildlife and humans.

Tennessee law requires that all dogs and cats be vaccinated against rabies and their shots kept up-to-date. Although cases of rabies in cats in Tennessee are uncommon, there are twice as many rabid cats as dogs in the U.S. To further protect your pets, keep them confined to a controlled area to limit their exposure to wild animals.

If you are bitten by a wild or domestic animal, or get fresh saliva from the animal into a fresh wound or scratch, then immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for at least five minutes, and seek medical attention immediately. Local or state health officials should be consulted to help determine if rabies treatment is needed.

A normal, healthy dog or cat that bites a person should be confined and observed for 10 days, and any illness that occurs during confinement should be evaluated by a veterinarian and reported to the local health department. Do not attempt to capture an animal that you suspect has rabies. Notify your local health department or animal control. Rabies in domestic animals can have a variety of signs and symptoms. Rabid animals may display abnormal behavior or an inability to rise or walk or hold the head erect. Drooling and foaming at the mouth are only occasionally observed.