To the editor:
Local veterinarian Steve Willson claims the Journal-World “encourages” the spread of rabies by reporting an upcoming concert for Operation WildLife. My daughter and I volunteer there. We’re trained to handle animals safely. Nobody wants rabies.
K-State rabies lab stats for the last decade reveal 12,777 animals tested. On average, 75 a year test positive; only 17 are NOT skunks! Humans avoid skunks, yet many love cats, the second most common critter to test positive: 73 in the past decade. Along with 53 cows, 24 horses and 18 dogs.
Bats have a “rabies reputation,” yet only brown bats have broken into double figures for positive tests since 2003. No other species is close. Only three coyotes and four raccoons have tested positive statewide, about the same as goats and sheep!
Some of my neighbors worry about foxes. Rabid foxes are rare in Kansas. In Douglas County, the only confirmed rabies case was a bat in Eudora back in 2004. Not even one Kansas opossum or squirrel came up positive in that decade.
None of this is to suggest that caution is not merited. As a Special Forces medic in Vietnam, where rabies is far more prevalent, I had to administer the 21-shot abdominal rabies series to three people, two of whom were children. It is a horrifying disease. But I do believe it is downright silly for a trained veterinarian to chastise this paper for an article that helped bring attention to a concert intended to help fund Operation WildLife.