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Biological Health Hazard – Rabies Outbreak (Public Warning) | Wildlife, Human exposure: Massachusetts


Published Date: 2016-08-10 12:43:37
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Rabies – Americas (31): USA (MA) wildlife, human exposure
Archive Number: 20160810.4407136

Date: Sunday 7 August 2016
Source: The Berkshire Eagle [edited]

The worst rabies epidemic in 2 decades has Sheffield [Massachusetts] residents worried for their children and pets alike. “I haven’t seen it this bad since 1992,” said animal control officer Martin Clark. Clark said the town has seen rabid foxes, skunks and even a woodchuck over the last few weeks. He said the heat might be the culprit, but added that there was no way to be sure.

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the brain of mammals. It is transmitted through saliva, usually by bites, and is recognizable by the dehydration and aggression of the infected animal. Rabies kills up to 60 000 people a year.

[A] Sheffield resident got a front row seat to the disease last week. On the morning of [1 Aug 2016], [the resident] heard a commotion in her chicken coop. What she believed was a hawk or other bird of prey turned out to be an erratically acting skunk. [The resident] thought it was lost or confused, but soon figured out something else was going on. “It ran up on my deck after me,” she recalled. “Then ran by and circled around. It kept squeaking at me.”

The squeaking is because of the overheating in the animal’s brain, Clark explained. He answered [the resident’s] call and made his way over to Sheffield from his home in Sandisfield. Clark told [the resident] to keep an eye on the animal in the meantime.

This was not a problem for [the resident], who had already climbed into her car and begun to hunt the animal across her yard and down the street. She tracked the animal until Clark arrived. [The resident] said she plans to put out a Have-A-Heart trap for the other skunks in the area. “Rabies takes 3 weeks to show up,” she said. “Others might be infected and it might not have appeared yet.”

Clark said the disease has shown up in the last 2 weeks and agreed that there might be more cases over the rest of the summer. He cautioned the public to take care, especially those with children and pets.

Anyone in Sheffield who sees a rabid animal is asked to call Clark at 413-269-6113. TTY relay service is available at 800-439-2370.

As for [the resident], she hopes the problem is dealt with sooner rather than later. “Every time we go out now, I’m listening for the squeals,” she said. “We’ve lived here for 10 years and this is the 1st time I remember something like this happening.” [She] sighed. “I hope it ends soon.”

[byline: Eoin Higgins]

communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts

[It is clearly an active rabies season, so members should be on the lookout for wildlife acting strangely starting by being out at times they are usually hunkered down. Call them in and let Animal Control deal with it, for which they have more experience than the rest of us.

There is an excellent CDC review of rabies in the US; see: “Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2014” with maps for each host species. The overall CDC entry page for rabies is at – Mod.MHJ

A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at:]

See Also

Rabies – Americas (30): USA, canine, feline, groundhog, skunk, human exposure 20160807.4400418
Rabies – Americas (29): USA, canine, feline, human exposure, corr 20160801.4384888
Rabies – Americas (29): USA, canine, feline, human exposure 20160731.4383544
Rabies – Americas (28): USA (IL) bat, human exposure 20160726.4371450
Rabies – Americas (27): USA, Canada, wildlife, feline, canine, human exp 20160719.4354778
Rabies – Americas (26): USA, rescued wildlife, feline, human exposure 20160714.4345524
Rabies – Americas (25): USA (CT) testing wild rabid animals 20160712.4340792
Rabies – Americas (24): USA (NC,MD) feline, canine, wildlife, human exp 20160712.4339594
Rabies – Americas (23): USA, canine susp. feline, human exposures 20160708.4333735
Rabies – Americas (22): USA (RI) susp mink, human exposures, EpiCore comments 20160708.4333147
Rabies – Americas (21): (CT, GA) canine, feline, raccoon, human exposures 20160707.4331848
Rabies – Americas (20): USA (RI) susp mink, human exposures 20160707.4329963
Rabies – Americas (19): USA (NJ, RI) raccoon, mink suspect, human exposures 20160706.4329418
Rabies – Americas (18): USA (VA) bobcat, human exposure 20160705.4327359
Rabies – Americas (17): USA (PA) feline, human exposure 20160704.4325652
Rabies – Americas (16): USA, feline, canine, bat, human exposure 20160630.4319562
Rabies – Americas (14): USA, wildlife, human exposure 20160629.4316234
Rabies – Americas (13): Canada, USA, wildlife, pet and human exposure 20160629.4315515
Rabies – Americas (12): USA, wildlife, human exp 20160628.4314351
Rabies – Americas (11): USA, Canada, multiple animals, human exp 20160528.4250423
Rabies – Americas (10): USA (GA) feline, raccoon, human exposure 20160415.4162669
Rabies – Americas (09): USA (SC) fox, canine, human exposure 20160414.4160179
Rabies – Americas (08): USA, corr. 20160328.4123889
Rabies – Americas (08): USA 20160328.4122167
Rabies – Americas (07): USA (MO) human, 2014 20160317.4102470
Rabies – Americas (06): USA (KS) bovine, strains 20160317.4098684
Rabies – Americas (05): USA (VA) raccoon, fox, human exposure 20160312.4088493
Rabies – Americas (04): USA 20160215.4023314
Rabies – Americas (03): USA 20160124.3962370
Rabies – Americas (01): USA (NJ,VA) Canada (ON) 20160102.3906117

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases

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