May 30, 2013
The Texas Department of State Health Services is increasing rabies surveillance and distributing rabies vaccine for wildlife in an area centered on the Concho/McCulloch county line, where a cow tested positive this month for the Texas fox type of rabies.
While animal rabies cases are not unusual in Texas, the previous case associated with the Texas fox type was in May 2009. DSHS’s successful oral rabies vaccination program has eliminated the canine type and virtually eliminated the fox type of the deadly disease over the last 18 years.
Doses of rabies vaccine will be distributed by helicopter over rural areas of Concho, Mason, McCulloch, Menard and extreme southern Coleman counties beginning Monday, June 3. The vaccine is contained in a small plastic packet coated with fishmeal crumbles to make it attractive for wildlife to eat. The vaccine has proven safe in more than 60 species of animals and is not a danger to humans, but people should avoid handling the vaccine baits because human contact makes it less likely animals will eat them.
Health officials also are asking people in Concho, Mason, McCulloch, Menard and the 11 surrounding counties to be aware of rabies and report any animals suspected of having rabies to the appropriate authorities. Suspect animals are foxes, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, feral dogs or cats, or livestock that are particularly aggressive, unafraid or otherwise acting abnormally. Such animals should be reported to animal control, the local sheriff’s office, county trapper, or Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden. People should avoid direct contact with wild animals.
People should have pets vaccinated to help stop the spread of rabies and act as a barrier to transmission between wild animals and humans.
Rabies is a viral illness usually transmitted via the bite of an infected animal. Preventing rabies is critical because once a person or animal displays symptoms, the disease is almost always fatal.
(News Media Contact: Chris
Van Deusen, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-776-7753)
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