Video: Animal Safety Experts Weigh In On Starkville Rabies Case

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – For the time in more than 50 years, a case of the rabies in a land animal has been found in Mississippi and it was in Starkville.

The rabies virus is only found in warm blooded animals meaning dogs, cats, raccoons, squirrels, even humans.

Dr. Christine Bryan, an assistant clinical professor at Mississippi State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, says the length between cases doesn’t prove the rabies virus isn’t still around.

“It just means we haven’t found it….”, said Bryan, “…we know its in neighboring states and we just have been fortunate enough to not have a case of it until now and now we have found a case of it in a terrestrial animal”.

Bryan says people should be careful when encountering any animal, not just the ones you see in the woods.

“Even if it’s a cute little puppy or kitten that comes running up to you, if you don’t know it, do not pet it. Don’t be out trying to pet wildlife, they are wild for a reason…”, said Bryan.

Lowndes County Animal Control officer Bobby Reeves says if you do encounter a wild animal, call animal control.

“Do not try to handle it because you don’t have the proper equipment to handle it with…” said Reeves, “…and you know if you get bitten you could be exposed to rabies”.

“Don’t feed them, don’t throw scraps out back…”, explained Reeves, “…and if you do have a wild animal keep your pets away from the wild animal.

Bryan hopes the case in Starkville will alert pet owners to stay up to date on their shots.

“This is not something to panic over but we just need to be aware of it…”, said Bryan, “…this is a great opportunity for everybody to make sure their animal is up to date on vaccinations if they have any questions contact their veterinarian….”.

Both experts say common symptoms of rabies include foaming of the mouth, erratic behavior, and animals that are normally out at night are roaming around during the day.

If you are bitten by an animal that could possibly be infected, contact the Mississippi Department of Health and your local physician immediately.

State law also requires pet dogs and cats to be vaccinated after twelve weeks, followed by a booster after a year and every three years after that.

Bryan also told WCBI to double check your state laws when dealing with pet vaccinations because the law varies from state to state.

The Lowndes County Animal Control will also set up traps and remove wild animals from properties upon request.

Contact your local animal control agency if you encounter a wild animal.

Categories: Local News, State News

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