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What’s News With Rabies: January 19, 2013

Rabies is most commonly seen in wild animals- bats, raccoons and skunks. But few recognize the danger in feral cats. According to the CDC, rabies in cats is on the rise. In Georgia this December about a dozen people were forced to get treatment after contact with a rabid cat.

“What we call a post-exposure prophylaxis vaccination protocol.  And that involves rabies immunoglobulin and a series of four vaccinations,” says Dr. Robin Churchill, pediatric infectious disease specialist.

Dr. Churchill is an infectious disease specialist with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

“You have to have the immunoglobulin injected into the site of the wound, if there’s a wound. And then you get a series of four intramuscular vaccinations. And that’s on days zero, 3, 7, & 14,” says Dr. Churchill.

Post-exposure shots are both necessary and expensive. Until recently they came through the Health Department but the high cost forced a move to Lee Memorial Health System.

“No longer does the health department provide these; actually the health system provides them now and the patients or their insurance is billed for that,” says Dr. Churchill.

As for responsibility, rabies shots are required for domestic animals, but pet owners are less likely to get their outdoor kitties vaccinated, which raises the community health risk.
“The important things about rabies control is compliance with the vaccination guidelines for dogs, cats, and ferrets,” says Dr. Churchill.

It’s also important to heed the call of the wildlife and steer clear of any strange animal.