Archive for Sunday, January 17, 1993

STATE HITS RECORD HIGH FOR CASES OF RABIES

January 17, 1993

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Rabies cases reported in Kansas reached an all-time high in 1992, with 374 confirmed cases.

"These are the highest numbers ever," said Greg Crawford, director of public information with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which records the information.

"What we're seeing now is a tapering down of this epidemic from last winter," Crawford said. "Last year's mild winter and the end of a 10-year cycle combined made the numbers so high."

In Douglas County, 12 skunks, two cows and three dogs were found to be infected in 1992 after being tested for rabies at Kansas State University in Manhattan.

The last time the numbers even approached the same level was 10 years ago when 151 rabies cases were reported. Crawford said every 10 years or so the number of rabies cases increases.

"After the big peak like this one, the numbers gradually go down to a lower level," Crawford said. "But it might take one or two years."

Crawford said the recent harsh winter weather probably ended the worst of the epidemic.

"With the good solid winter like this year, the diseased animals are dying and people aren't going outside so they're not in danger of being infected," he said. "And it's only in instances when animals come into contact with humans do we hear about it."

KDHE advises people to refrain from coming into contact with a wild animal that is acting strange.

"The same advice is still the best advice," Crawford said. "Just be careful around outdoor animals that are not acting normally."

Domesticated animals such as cats and dogs should be vaccinated against the virus.

The city of Lawrence requires all dogs and cats over the age of 6 months to be vaccinated.

Statewide, the animals found to be infected with the virus included 335 skunks, nine cows, seven foxes, seven dogs, six cats, five bats, two horses, one bobcat, one sheep and one raccoon.

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