Rabies case confirmed in Gillespie County
A rabies case has been confirmed in Gillespie County, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The Fredericksburg Police Department and Animal Control were notified on Wednesday, July 11, by TDHS, Public Health Region 8.
The owner of the now-deceased rabid dog was contacted by Fredericksburg Animal Control following information from FPD.
The dog was described as a 13-month-old black crossbreed wearing a pink collar on a purple leash. The owner and dog were in the 300 block of West Main Street during the Fourth of July parade.
Following the parade, the owner and dog ate lunch at Hondo’s in the outdoor seating area. The owner reported they did not walk anywhere else on Main Street during or after the parade and lunch.
The dog began showing signs of rabies on Saturday and was taken to a veterinarian. The dog was later sent for testing and Fredericksburg Animal Control was notified of the case.
FPD and Fredericksburg Animal Control urge those who believe they may have come in contact with the dog to contact their doctor without delay.
With the recent concern of rabies in the county, local veterinarians note that vaccinating pets is the best way to prevent the deadly disease.
“The easy answer is to vaccinate your pet,” Casey Pitmon, DVM at Friendship Veterinary Center said. “The rabies vaccine is the only vaccine that is regulated by the law.”
Due to the amount of wildlife in the area, Pitmon suggests that pets get vaccinated on a yearly basis, starting when they are 12 weeks old. With the vaccination, the chances of a pet contracting rabies is extremely small.
“The only way to ensure your pet is safe when coming in contact with a rabid animal is to vaccinate,” she said.
If a pet happens to come in contact with a rabid animal, it is likely it will develop neurological symptoms like stumbling around, lack of focus, acting unaware, and unable to drink water.
“If your pet starts exhibiting these symptoms, especially if you or the animal had wounds, you need to report the information to animal control and take the pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible,” Pitmon said.
In addition to vaccinations, owners can be aware of their pets when in public.
Pitmon suggests bringing a separate water bowl for the pet to drink out of. If there is not a separate water dish, monitor what the pet drinks and make sure it is never drinking out of standing water.
She also suggests that owners and those with young children monitor what animals they come in contact with and try to not pet every animal they see.
“With my clients, I reiterate who important it is to vaccinate,” she said. “If you have a young puppy, do not let the puppy come in contact with other animals unless you know for sure that animals have been fully vaccinated.”
Ultimately, Pitmon and other veterinarians are diligent about educating pet owners about the vaccine as well as preventing the deadly disease.
Hill Country Memorial Hospital has also released information concerning the rabies case.
For those that believe they may have come in contact with the dog, HCM states there are three types of contact including:
• Category I: touching or feeding animals, licks on the skin;
• Category II: an animal nibbles uncovered skin, minor scratches or abrasions without bleeding, licks on broken skin;
• Category III: single or multiple bites or scratches that break through the skin, contamination of mucous membranes (nose or mouth) with saliva from licks; exposure to bat bites or scratches.
Given the incubation period for rabies in humans, HCM states that this is an urgent situation and treatment will depend on the type of contact.
Per the World Health Organization’s guidelines, Category I does not require treatment, Category II contact requires immediate vaccination and Category III requires immediate vaccination and administration of immune globulin are recommended, in addition to immediate washing and flushing of all bites, wounds and scratches.
“If you are concerned about exposure and the potential for infection, we encourage you to get evaluated by a physician,” a spokesman said. “As a full-service healthcare organization, HCM maintains access to rabies vaccinations.”
For more information, contact the HCM Immediate Care Clinic at 830-992-2820.