Folks: This is a reminder that we’re entering the time of year when we see a rise in the number of people bitten by wild and domestic animals. Animal bite victims face multiple potential problems including bacterial infection, physical damage, psychological trauma and, of course, the threat of rabies. So far this year, 13 rabid animals (7 skunks, 6 bats) have been detected statewide. This is about average for this time of year, but rabies is not your “average” disease since it has the highest case fatality rate that is possible (essentially 100%). The two animal reservoir species in Missouri (bats, skunks) can be found rabid anywhere in the state and, as we know, rabies spills over sporadically from these species to other wild and domestic animals. Last year was a particularly bad year for rabid domestic animals, with 3 dogs, 2 cats, and 1 horse testing positive (all of these were in the southeastern and south central areas of the state).
The following resources are available to you in your continuing efforts to inform the general public, medical care providers, community leaders, and others about the risk of rabies and measures they can take to prevent this disease. First, attached to this message, is an informational template that you can use for a number of purposes such as media releases, an outline for oral briefings, as an article on your website, and for other public outreach messaging. Another resource for making your community more aware of the risk of rabies is the Health Department Toolkit (http://rabiesalliance.org/resources) available from the Global Alliance for Rabies Control. The toolkit includes many messaging topics/formats, directed at all age groups, and available in multiple languages. The Office of Veterinary Public Health has developed e-cards that can be sent to a single person or to an entire group (go to e-cards and scroll to see all of the e-cards available on this and other topics). Order new bulletin board displays and posters here entitled Vaccinate Your Pets #1102 and Avoid Wild Animals #1103 to help communities be more aware of the facts about rabies. Consider adding a button to your Web site that shows what you are doing to stay “rabies free.” Please contact Alyce.Turner@health.mo.gov for additional outreach ideas and to get modifiable versions of the posters that you can localize as needed.
More information regarding rabies in Missouri can be found at the DHSS website http://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/communicable/rabies/index.php. Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or need anything from us!