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Rabies is Alive and Well in Maine
Western Waldo County has been a focus of the infection.
Maine had more than a 100 percent increase in rabies cases in 2006—61 cases in 2005 compared to 127 cases in 2006. This represents the highest number of rabies cases since 1998 when the current epizootic of North American raccoon strain of rabies peaked in Maine at 248 cases. It appears that the disease has not slowed down in 2007 with 15 cases since January 1st. In particular, there has been a focus of infection in western Waldo County with two skunks and one raccoon testing positive for the disease in the town of Knox and one positive skunk in Troy. One of the skunks in Knox bit or scratched eight dairy cows before it was killed and sent to the lab for testing. In each of the other cases, pets or livestock were also exposed.
Rabies is almost always a fatal disease which only affects mammals. Fortunately, there are highly effective vaccines available that provide excellent protection for vaccinated animals. Currently, there are approved vaccines for dogs, cats, ferrets, horses, cattle and sheep. Pet owners in the Waldo County area should be sure that their animals are current on their rabies vaccinations. Livestock owners should consult with their practicing veterinarian about the advisability of vaccinating their stock. It is permissible in Maine for livestock owners to vaccinate their own animals and they can purchase the vaccine from a veterinary supply house by obtaining a prescription from their veterinarian. It is never a good idea to approach wild animals and this is even more critical when rabies is present in a region. Children should be reminded to steer clear of any wild animal that is behaving in an unusual manner. One of the cardinal signs of rabies is unpredictable, often extremely aggressive, behavior. Skunks, raccoons and foxes infected with rabies will often attack humans or pets and may even attempt to enter dwellings. Any such behavior should be reported to the local Animal Control Officer.
To keep track of the current situation, please visit the Maine CDC website on Maine Rabies Data at: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/etl/rabies/rabies.htm
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