The 11-month-old dog that was euthanized after contracting rabies earlier this month had undergone its first round of rabies vaccination, which starts at around 3 months old with series of subsequent boosters, and was “legally vaccinated for its age,” said Amanda Ruddy, consumer protection supervisor with the division of Environmental Health.
“Of course, with all vaccinations, immunity does build up over time,” she said.
One of the owners told the Journal that his dog interacted with about half a dozen people in the time frame of the infection at two locations: his work and home.
Ruddy said the investigation and outreach by the health officials is still ongoing.
“The parties involved have been extremely cooperative,” she said.
Health officials are stressing the importance of vaccinating pets after a Humboldt County dog tested positive for rabies for the first time in more than five years.
“The animal is known to have travelled to several locations throughout the county. Public Health officials are working to assess the possibility of exposure to other domestic animals and humans,” a release from the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services states.
Most incidents of rabies occur in wild animals, including skunks, foxes and bats, according to the Centers for Disease Control, with domestic animals making up less than 10 percent of the cases.
DHHS reported the dog is believed to have been exposed during a fight with a rabid skunk. A little over two months ago, a fox suspected of biting a Fortuna teen tested positive for the deadly virus that attacks the central nervous system.
Of the 6,000 cases of rabies in animals reported across the United States and Puerto Rico in 2014, 59 were dogs and 272 were cats, according to the latest CDC statistics available.
In the same time period, only one dog and two cats tested positive in California.
A Willow Creek girl proved to be a medical miracle when she survived rabies in 2011, becoming just the third person in the United States to overcome the virus.
From the Department of Health and Human Services:
For the first time in more than five years, a dog in Humboldt County has tested positive for rabies. The infection is believed to have resulted from a fight with a rabid skunk, although staff from the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) have been unable to confirm this.
The animal is known to have travelled to several locations throughout the county. Public Health officials are working to assess the possibility of exposure to other domestic animals and humans.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, domestic animals account for only 7.3 percent of all rabies cases. In 2014, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 59 dogs and 272 cats tested positive for rabies nationwide.
In California, an average of only 1.1 domestic animal rabies cases were reported annually over the past 10 years. The California Department of Public Health reports that that number rose to three cases in 2014, involving a dog and two cats.
In Humboldt County, only 22 cases of rabies in domestic animals have been reported since 1959, when recordkeeping began. The most recent, a dog, was reported in 2010.
Rabies is always present in the wildlife population throughout Humboldt County, experts say, especially among skunks, bats and foxes. Public Health officials stress the importance of fully vaccinating domestic animals against rabies, including dogs, cats and select livestock.
Other preventive measures include avoiding contact with wild and stray animals, including feral cats. Do not feed wildlife or leave pet food outdoors at night. Report animal bites to your county or municipal animal control officer, and if you are bitten, wash the bite immediately with soap and water and seek medical attention.