Rabies alert issued for veterinarians in Ohio; South Carolina reports first human rabies case in 50 years

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Dec 26, 2011
By dvm360.com staff
National Report — Veterinarians in Ohio are being asked to remain vigilant about administering rabies vaccinations and take precautions against staff exposure after a 3-year-old dog that was past-due on its vaccination contracted the disease. A woman in South Carolina also has contracted rabies, making her the first human case in the state in 50 years.

The Ohio Department of Health Laboratory confirmed the Ohio case in mid October, stating a spayed female dog from Twinsburg became infected. The 3-year-old Siberian Husky was 13 months past due for rabies vaccination, according to state health officials.

The owners say the dog often hunted and killed wild animals on their property. The dog was presented to the Twinsburg Veterinary Hospital in early October with a 105-degree fever, severe ataxia, excessive salivation and a bite wound on her right, front leg. Canine distemper virus was initially suspected, and she was treated with supportive care and kept in isolation. By the next day, the dog’s fever had dropped, then quickly spiked. The dog's behavior became more erratic, officials report. The dog died that night, and the veterinarian submitted the dog’s remains for rabies testing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed infection with a variant of rabies circulating among raccoons, and health officials say this is the first known animal infected with the raccoon variant in Summit County and the second dog confirmed to have contracted rabies in Ohio since 1990.

No one was bitten by the dog, but several people were evaluated and treated for non-bite exposures. Six people at the veterinary clinic may have been exposed and started post-exposure rabies treatment. The veterinarian had previously received pre-exposure vaccination. Everyone else exposed will require the entire vaccination series, according to health officials.

Another dog in the household and two cats have been vaccinated for rabies, and the local health department ordered they remain under quarantine for six months.

In South Carolina, the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed the first case of rabies in a person in 50 years. The middle-aged woman was believed to have been bitten by a bat. The woman died Dec. 19.