HOWELL COUNTY, Mo. – Howell County is on a rabies alert after a puppy tested positive for the virus. The six to eight week old puppy was taken to a veterinary clinic after becoming ill. It was later euthanized, but not before more than two dozen people and several other animals were all exposed.
The Howell County Health Department told us eight unvaccinated animals were euthanized and 32 individuals are undergoing post exposure treatment in connection to this case. It says it feels confident in saying that everyone involved is accounted for and has started their vaccination.
The Howell County Health Department says a skunk is to blame for the rabid puppy’s death.
“Either through the skunk getting into the litter of puppies or the mother killed the skunk and brought it back to the puppies,” said Justin Frazier, Environmental Public Health Supervisor.
Frazier says one of those puppies then exposed others to the virus. He says rabies can be transferred through saliva, a bite or a scratch.
“With a puppy a lot of people were holding it, letting it kick around on them, things like that so a lot of them had exposure that way,” Frazier said.
The puppy’s five litter mates, the mother and two other unvaccinated dogs were euthanized due to exposure. Frazier said that would not have been the case if those animals were up to date on vaccinations.
“If those animals were current on their shots all that would have been required would have been a booster and to observe them for 45 days,” said Frazier.
He says as for any humans exposed to the puppy, they must complete their post exposure treatment shots to be protected.
“It is a shot they will get on day zero, day three, seven and 14,” said Frazier.
Frazier says rabies is nearly 100 percent deadly and that treatment needs to begin as soon as possible.
“Skunk are main carriers so if they come in contact with a skunk, if you see bite wounds scratches anything like that and you find a dead skunk or wild animal then call us and let your health department know,” Frazier said.