Region 7 Zoonosis Control has provided their annual review of rabies cases for 2012. This is the region where San Saba County resides. They investigated a total of 458 positive and non-negative animal rabies cases in 2012. This year marked the second highest number of laboratory confirmed animal rabies cases (308) in Central Texas behind 2011’s total of 405 cases.
There were 308 laboratory-confirmed animal rabies cases reported from the 30-county area of Health Service Region 7 (HSR7) during 2012. Sixty-nine (69) persons and 474 animals were exposed to these rabid animals. Region 7 staff investigated an additional 150 non-negative (decomposed, destroyed, and unsatisfactory) rabies test results. Fifty-nine (59) persons and 128 animals were exposed to these potentially rabid animals.
Rabies was confirmed in HSR7 in 218 bats, 61 skunks, 10 foxes, 9 raccoons, 5 cats, three dogs, one cow and one coyote. Counties with laboratory-confirmed rabies cases include: Bastrop (6), Bell (8), Blanco (2), Bosque (5), Brazos (3), Burnet (27), Coryell (2), Falls (1), Fayette (1), Freestone (1), Grimes (2), Hamilton (4), Hays (32), Lampasas (1), Limestone (1), Llano (27), Madison (1), McLennan (3), Milam (2), Mills (4), Robertson (1), Travis (76), Washington (9), and Williamson (89).
High rabies case numbers serve as a reminder that a neurologically abnormal high-risk rabies species (bat, skunk, fox, raccoon and coyote) could have rabies. If that animal bites a pet or person, or was found in close proximity to a pet, it must be submitted for rabies testing. A positive rabies laboratory result requires a public health investigation to prevent rabies deaths in people and pets.
Rabies virus can be transmitted from infected animals to wildlife, unvaccinated domestic animals, and people. Animal control agencies and veterinary practices should continue to vaccinate pets and livestock against rabies and to alert their communities and clients about risks from rabies.
Residents unfamiliar with rabies may confuse signs of the virus with another common infectious disease of canines. Canine distemper virus infects wildlife, such as skunks, foxes, and raccoons, as well as unvaccinated dogs. Rabies and canine distemper may, in some cases, be clinically indistinguishable. Residents should appreciate that an ill raccoon may have rabies instead of canine distemper virus. Strange-acting wildlife should be reported to local animal control authorities.
[Note: San Saba County did not have a confirmed rabies case reported this year. The rabies data obtained through a passive reporting system is based solely on the results of animals submitted for rabies testing. There are many more animals (particularly wildlife) that die of rabies that are never submitted for rabies testing. Rabies is endemic in Central Texas, and ALL counties have rabies risk.] Please contact your local Animal control office by calling 325-372-DOGS (3647) if you observe a suspect animal or feel you may have been exposed to one.