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Boyle Co. health leaders warning pet owners of rabies cases in dogs

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 4:51 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The Boyle County Health Department confirmed Wednesday that two dogs have tested positive for rabies in surrounding counties.

According to Dr. Butch Schroyer with the Animal Care Clinic in Lexington, while the strain of rabies typically carried by dogs has almost been eradicated, pet owners still need to be cautious and mindful of other animals they come in contact with.

“Rabies becomes a problem because people aren’t used to seeing it and so even if a case of rabies is around them they may not recognize that,” Dr. Schroyer said.

Schroyer says the rabies virus is an encephalitis, which impacts the brain, causing behavioral changes in animals. He adds there are some more obvious physical changes you can spot as well.

“The encephalitis paralyzes some of the muscles that aid swallowing and since they can’t swallow, we get saliva coming out of their mouth and you may get foaming going on,” Dr. Schroyer said.

Even if you have an indoor pet that hardly goes outside or even stays inside, Dr. Schroyer says those pets should still get vaccinated for rabies to keep them safe.

“I’ve had three rabies positive bats be in a house with a pet and at those times those three pets that got exposed during that instance had not been vaccinated, so they were on a sixth-month quarantine,” Dr. Schroyer said.

Fortunately those animals survived, but many rabies cases are lethal, which is why Dr. Schroyer says it’s so important to get your pets vaccinated.

“We would recommend you take a three-year vaccine whenever possible, you got longer protection, a little bit more overlap, less chance of a failure on a vaccine,” Dr. Schroyer said.

If your pet does get bitten by an animal that you’re unsure has rabies, Schroyer says it’s always safest to take your pet to a veterinarian so they can check the status of your rabies vaccine or take appropriate measures if your pet isn’t up to date with the shot.

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