By BRAD KELLAR
Veterinarians are urging pet owners to have their dogs, cats and other domesticated animals vaccinated against rabies, after a pet dog was confirmed with the disease this week.
Kelsey Lytle with the Commerce Veterinary Clinic said the case was only the fifth in Texas this year where a pet dog was diagnosed with rabies.
“This was just a house dog,” Lytle said of the nine month-old Labrador Retriever mix from the Wolfe City area.
Lytle said the dog was brought to their office July 11, after his owner reported it was lethargic and not eating properly.
“He was also vomiting and had diarrhea, like lots of sick animals can get,” Lytle said.
The dog was housed at the clinic and began showing additional symptoms Saturday morning.
“He was having trouble swallowing and he was getting aggressive with us,” Lytle said.
Dr. Gary Thompson had the dog put to sleep and sent a sample to the state health lab in Austin, which confirmed the rabies diagnosis Tuesday.
Lytle said there were 15 positive rabies identification in animals in Hunt County between January and June, but none before had occurred in a household pet.
Also unusual, Lytle said, was that the dog did not have any bite marks from another animal, such as a skunk or raccoon, and was not believed to have been around bats.
However, Lytle said their office is receiving increased reports of pets encountering bats in Hunt County this year.
“We’ve gotten a few calls, five or six, of animals bringing those in,” Lytle said.
Following the discovery of a rabid skunk in Greenville in January, the city’s Animal Control Division released the following information:
— Persons living in the area are being encouraged to immediately have their animals vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. By law, the rabies vaccination is required every year, when given the one year vaccine and every three years, when given the three year vaccine.
— Restrain your pets and do not allow them to roam free.
— Avoid contact with wild animals, do not try to hand feed them and do not keep them as pets.
— Do not touch any sick or injured animals. Instead call the City of Greenville Animal Control Division. Signs of rabies include, a change in behavior, wild animals that seem friendly or tame, wild animals which are not normally seen in the day time hours, animals that have a hard time walking, eating, or drinking, and animals that bite or scratch an old wound until it bleeds.
— Rabies is a virus of the central nervous system. It can be transmitted by the bite of a rabid animal, or through the saliva of a rabid animal being introduced into a fresh scratch or similar skin break. Rabies can incubate from 14 days to 18 months, depending on the type of animal, site of wound, amount of virus, and the age of the victim. The average incubation period is 3 to 8 weeks. There are two clinical signs of rabies, ‘furious’ and ‘dumb’ rabies. If the animal has the furious type of rabies it will display the usual ‘mad dog’ behavior, irritable, snapping and biting at real or imaginary objects, and can be extremely vicious and violent. Paralysis sets in shortly, usually affecting the hind legs first, then in four to seven days the animal will die.
If the animal displays the dumb type of rabies, the prominent symptoms are drowsiness, paralysis of the lower jaw, the animal will snap at movement and are insensitive to pain. They can act as if something is lodged in their throat, prompting owners to try and remove the object and become exposed to rabies. They will usually die three to ten days after the first symptoms.
Please report any animal bite, or any possible rabies suspect to the Greenville Animal Control, at 5800 Joe Ramsey Blvd., 903-457-2990. An officer is on duty Monday – Friday from 8 am to 5 p.m. After hours calls can be directed to the City of Greenville Police Department’s non-emergency number, 903- 457-2900.
The following Veterinarian clinics are available to administer the rabies vaccination to your pets, please call them for prices and hours.
Commerce Veterinary Clinic, 113 Texas 224 Commerce 903-886-7941
Animal Clinic 4527 Stonewall 455-6317
Animal Medical Center 4307 Ridgecrest 454-9191
Crossroads Veterinary Clinic 8414 Wesley 454-1563
Greenville Animal Hospital I-30 at Lamar St. 455-8588
Cause for Paws 4400 Moulton Suite I 454-7387
Turtle Creek Vet. Med. Center 5900 Jack Finney Blvd. 454-6222