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Knox County Hospital District—
KNOX CITY—Cases of rabies across the region are on the rise, with more than 70 cases reported by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Already this year, there have been two cases in Knox County along with two cases in neighboring Haskell County, with five additional being treated for positive exposure. For officials at Knox County Hospital District, the rise in cases is concerning.
“Rabies is a vicious disease of the nervous system that can lead to very serious conditions if left untreated, including death,” said Dr. Rodney Sholty, a family medicine physician in Knox City. “One case is too many, so we need to raise awareness now before cases get out of hand.”
Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the nervous system of warm-blooded animals such as dogs, cats, skunks, racoons and bats. If left untreated, rabies can be lethal to humans.
The virus is easily spread when the saliva of an infected animal is introduced to another animal or human, typically by a bite or scratch.
There are three stages of symptoms commonly associated with rabies. The first stage typically mimics flu-like symptoms, which can include fever, headache, anxiety, sore throat and cough. The second stage is the onset of neurologic symptoms, which include aggression, convulsions, hypersalivation, hallucinations, paralysis and hyperventilation. If left untreated, the third stage is coma, which ultimately leads to death.
“Following a bite from an unknown animal, you should wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and apply an iodine-based antiseptic,” Dr. Sholty said. “Threats to humans can be mitigated by seeking medical attention as quickly as possible.”
He added that control and prevention of rabies begins with community knowledge.
By law, pet dogs and cats must be vaccinated by a veterinarian against rabies. A veterinarian can advise on the best vaccination for your pet. Preventing your pet from roaming the neighborhood is another way to reduce their chances of contracting the disease.
To prevent possible infection, Dr. Sholty recommends people avoid contact with wild animals and stray dogs and cats as they could possibly be carrying the disease. If you are traveling to countries where rabies is common, it is recommended that you get vaccinated prior to travel.
Additionally, Dr. Sholty said that education is key to preventing rabies. Children should be educated about the risk of rabies as well as bite prevention as they are the most common victims of severe dog bites.
For more information about medical care following possible rabies infection, please call Knox City Clinic at 940-657-3906 or Munday Clinic at 940-422-5271. To learn more about local healthcare programs, services, and medical providers, visit www.knoxhospital.org