Susan Buckley, RN, Director, Public Health
Ira Singh, MPH, Deputy Director
Donald I. Baird, MD, Health Officer

Division of Environmental Health

PRESS RELEASE

Date Released: 12/29/2010
Subject: Humboldt County dog tests positive for rabies
Contact: Leslie Lollich
Phone: 476-4763

Humboldt County health officials are urging animal owners to make sure their pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations after a dog in the Bridgeville area tested positive for rabies.

As a precaution, five people who came in contact with the dog started post-exposure treatment over the weekend. Treatment costs more than $2,000 and involves four visits to an emergency room within a two-week period.

Four other unvaccinated pets that had contact with the dog were euthanized per California regulations. State regulation mandates either euthanasia or immediate vaccination with a minimum six-month quarantine in a manner approved by the local health officer.

Rabies is found in wild animals and can spread to unvaccinated domestic animals. The dog that tested positive was the first rabies case in a domestic animal in Humboldt County since 1989. A dog tested positive in Trinity County earlier this year.

It is believed the Bridgeville dog came in contact with a rabid skunk several months ago. The dog died within a few days of displaying symptoms.

In 2009, 36 foxes and two skunks tested positive for the rabies virus in Humboldt County. In 2010, there have been three positive animals -- two foxes and this current positive dog. Rabies has been found in wild animals in all areas of Humboldt County.

Rabies in humans can be prevented either by eliminating exposure to rabid animals or by providing exposed persons with prompt local treatment of wounds combined with rabies post exposure treatment.

Questions regarding possible exposures should be directed to the Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Branch Environmental Health Division at (707) 445-6215, or toll-free at (800) 963-9241.

Residents should consult with their veterinarian on the frequency for re-vaccination of their pets.

Other important safety measures include:

avoid contact with wild and stray animals
report animal bites to your county or municipal animal control officer
report aggressive animals to local law enforcement
instruct children to not touch a wild or stray animal and report it to an adult
wash animal bites immediately with soap and water and seek medical attention
bat proof homes and outbuildings
bring pet foods indoors at night to keep skunks, raccoons, opossum, and fox from becoming uninvited visitors.

Help protect your family and community by being aware of the presence of rabies and knowing how to reduce the risk of exposure.

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