7 things you should know
Already in 2014, 14 cases of rabies have been seen at Cook Children’s, with 11 dog cases and three skunk exposures. In the years from 2011 to 2013, 168 cases were treated at Cook Children’s, with animals including dogs, cats, bats, rats, cows, ferrets, raccoons, deer and squirrels.
Chris Curtis, clinical coordinator for Infectious Disease at Cook Children’s, has treated her share of kids for rabies through the years. As more kids head outside for the summer, Curtis offers these seven helpful tips to protect them:
- Rabies is a deadly disease. Spread of the disease occurs when the saliva containing the rabies virus is introduced into an opening on the skin, usually via a bit (or possibly a scratch) of a rabid animal.
- If you have a suspected animal, whether it’s a stray or a family pet, it should be taken to the vet or animal control for a confinement of 10 days. If the person who has been exposed to the animal is immediately treated with the vaccine and the animal does not show signs of rabies, it will not have to be euthanized.
- Bats are extremely dangerous. Not all bats have rabies, but most human cases of rabies in the U.S. are caused by bat bites.
- If you aren’t sure you’ve been bitten, go to the doctor immediately. Bats are tiny and can leave tiny bites or scratches that humans may not even notice, until it’s too late. If you come in close contact with a bat, go to the Emergency department immediately.
- If bitten, wash the wound with soap and water and seek medical care immediately.
- Protect your pets and farm animals from rabies by making sure they are vaccinated. Talk to your veterinarian for more information.
- Cook Children’s is prepared and experienced when it comes to caring for children and rabies. Cook Children’s has been very invested in making sure that the vaccinations are in stock. The caregivers are specialized in treating children, including Child Life specialists who can help the child throughout the process. Adult hospitals may not be equipped to treat pediatric rabies cases.
Chris Curtis is the clinical coordinator for Cook Children's Infectious Disease, which is dedicated to providing excellent, patient-centered care, as well as access to the most up-to-date therapies and leading-edge clinical research.