Dr. Rachel Nelson, a veterinarian with Crossroads Animal Hospital in Moody, said she and three staff members must undergo shots to prevent rabies after coming in contact with a mixed-breed dog that carried rabies.
“We’re not sure how she got rabies,” Nelson said Thursday.
The black Labrador dog, which was nursing puppies, was euthanized last week. State health officials confirmed Tuesday the dog had rabies.
Nelson said the dog was euthanized last Thursday after she suspected the dog had rabies.
St. Clair County Rabies Officer Dr. Larry Chasteen said this is the first rabid dog identified in the past 20 years in St. Clair County.
“This is the first dog in my memory,” he said.
He said there was a coyote that tested positive for rabies two years ago in St. Clair County.
“Everything else has been bats,” he said. “It wasn’t unusual to see a bat (with rabies) every 2-3 years.”
Nelson said bats and raccoons appear to be the most common carriers of rabies, and she emphasized the importance of people vaccinating their animals against rabies.
“What bothers me is that this was an unvaccinated dog roaming free and nursing puppies,” she said.
Nelson described the dog as a black, short-haired dog which roamed freely in the Kelly Creek Road area of Odenville.
She said the dog never bit any of her staff workers, but the employees were exposed to the animal’s saliva. Two staff members already had vaccinations against rabies but are still required to undergo preventive rabies shots.
Nelson said the dog first appeared weak and had a difficult time eating and swallowing. The dog was vomiting and did not have an appetite. The dog later became very aggressive.
In May 2011, a fox was killed in Lincoln that tested positive for rabies. Only two months ago, two dead raccoons were found in Talladega County that tested positive for rabies. The two dead raccoons were found in the Turner’s Mill area.
Chasteen said it is important that people keep their pets up-to-date with their rabies shots.
He said not to approach any wild animal acting docile or friendly.
“Wild animals are supposed to run away from you,” Chasteen said. “Don’t mess with any wild animals.”
Contact David Atchison at email@example.com.