Rabid Animals Across DFW, Officials Encourage Awareness

Chart courtesy CDC

Local authorities are encouraging residents to exercise caution when handling stray and wild animals

GRAND PRAIRIE — Last month, Grand Prairie found a fox they believe may have had rabies before it died.

In the past, this word – rage – conjured up the thought of quick death or painful blows in an attempt to circumvent the disease.

These days, with a general sickness of the month atmosphere, it’s a good idea to remember that there are still illnesses that can easily be avoided if you’re careful.

Rabies is a preventable viral disease. It is often transmitted by the bite of a rabid animal through saliva. A person can also have rabies if they have a scratch and the rabies-carrying animal gives them saliva. The rabies virus poisons the central nervous system of mammals and can cause brain effects and death.

Deaths from rabies are the highest in a decade

In January, it was reported that in the United States, five Americans died of rabies last year. This is the highest number in a decade and all deaths are due to contact with bats. However, several of these five people died because they did not know they had been infected or, in one case, the person refused rabies treatment.

This sick fox in Grand Prairie was located near the corner of S. Carrier Pkwy and E. Sandra Ln., according to Dallas County Health and Human Services. The fox was recovered by animal control and tested for rabies. Rabies test results were inconclusive and therefore rabies virus could not be ruled out as a cause of death.

A DCHHS press release said: ‘It is possible the fox died of another cause. Anyone who has been bitten or scratched by this sick fox, or any other wild animal, should contact their doctor immediately.

The statement goes on to state that “contact with animals, such as bites or scratches, may lead to exposure to rabies. Infected animals can transmit the rabies virus before symptoms appear. Simply seeing the fox is not considered exposure.

Dr. Philip Huang, director of health and human services for Dallas County, said the animals most likely to carry rabies are dogs, cats, foxes, raccoons, bats and the coyotes.

Rabies is easily prevented

“Even though a feral kitten looks so sweet, these feral and adult cats can also carry rabies,” he said. “The way to tell sometimes is that an animal’s behavior can become aggressive and also have excessive saliva.”

In the event that a person is bitten or has had an encounter with an animal that may have rabies, if there is any chance that the animal’s saliva has entered the broken skin, it is wise to get heal and ask questions later.

The infection can cause insomnia, anxiety, confusion, paralysis, salivation, hallucinations, difficulty swallowing and fear of water.

Huang said, “Rabies vaccines aren’t as bad as they were when the vaccines were horrible.

Status of rabies cases

On the state website reporting rabies cases by county, the last counts reported are from February 2022. At that time, in Dallas County, there were 49 animal rabies cases during that month. . This included three coyotes, three raccoons, 34 dogs, eight cats and one animal listed as other.

In Ellis County in February, five dogs and two cats were rabid, and in Tarrant County that same month there were 39 cases.

On Thursday, May 5, the Texas State Department of Health Services notified the City of Midlothian Division of Animal Services that a skunk taken from the Brandi Ridge Subdivision on May 2, 2022 had tested positive for rage.

Early last week, a Denton County stray cat tested positive for rabies in the town of Krum, a public health official said.

“The rage is there,” Huang concluded. “Remember to be careful with wild animals.”

Public health officials recommend the following precautions to protect everyone from exposure to rabies:

  • Report any sick or strange wildlife.
  • Vaccinate pets and livestock.
  • Vaccinate livestock with frequent human contact.
  • Do not feed wild or stray animals and discourage them from seeking food near your home.
  • Do not feed stray animals.
  • Do not approach an unfamiliar animal, whether wild or domestic.
  • Report all animal bites and contact with bats to Animal Services. Human rabies can be prevented by a series of vaccines.
  • Keep garbage cans well covered and avoid storing food outdoors.
  • Children should be informed that they must tell an adult immediately if they have been bitten or scratched by an animal.

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Jennifer R. Strohm