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    Rabies: Does anyone still get it?



    Courtesy Story

    Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center

    By Beth McMillan
    Public Health Nurse

    FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. - A soldier and his family made an unfortunate discovery in their Fort Huachuca, Ariz., home earlier this month of a small bat they later turned in to health care officials.

    Bats can mean a number of things to many people, but to health care professionals they raise a serious concern: rabies.

    There have been 55 cases of human rabies in the U.S. since 1990. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the disease is fatal and there is no known cure.

    2011 saw two U.S. military rabies fatalities. One was a soldier who first contracted the disease after being bitten by a dog in Afghanistan, but did not start showing symptoms until approximately six months later, shortly before he died.

    Again in 2011, an Air Force Reserve Airman contracted rabies while hunting in North Carolina where he came into contact with raccoons. He later moved to Florida where he showed signs of illness and died.

    Rabies is spread usually through saliva from one mammal to another. The disease is most prevalent in wild animals, such as bats, skunks, raccoons, dogs, cats, coyotes and foxes.

    In Arizona, humans are most at risk of exposure by bats due to their proximity to people and their pets, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. The most common bat in Arizona, the Mexican free-tail bat, is a known carrier. Nearly 20% that were tested from 2001-2010 in Texas were positive for rabies, according to the CDC.

    If you are bitten by an animal or exposed to any body fluids in the eyes, nose or mouth, immediately wash the area thoroughly with soap and water and make an appointment with your medical provider. All animal bites should be evaluated by your medical provider to assess the risk of rabies exposure and the need for an injection of rabies immune globulin and a series of four or five injections of a rabies vaccine to prevent the disease.

    The treatment is extremely effective and should be initiated as soon as possible after the bite. If treatment is started promptly, the risk of developing the disease is very low. If symptoms of the disease develop, the disease is nearly always fatal.

    Symptoms include flu-like symptoms, fever, itching or burning at the site, headache and irritability. It will progress to spasms of the throat and the muscles used for breathing, convulsions, seizures and paralysis.

    If you have been bitten by an animal or think you have been exposed to rabies, please seek medical assistance as soon as possible.



    Date Taken: 06.04.2015
    Date Posted: 06.04.2015 16:00
    Story ID: 165519
    Location: FORT HUACHUCA, AZ, US 

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