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Paynesville Press - August 25, 2004

Rabies cases increasing in Minnesota

By Michael Jacobson

A substantial increase of animal rabies cases in the last month has been reported by the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

Due to this rise, people are reminded to vaccinate their pets for rabies and to avoid contact with any domestic or wild animals that are acting abnormally.

Since July 1, the Board of Animal Health has confirmed 23 positive animal rabies cases across the state. So far, the state has seen 50 rabies cases in 2004. Six skunks in Stearns County and two skunks in Kandiyohi County have tested positive for rabies in 2004.

In 2003, there were 49 cases of rabies in Minnesota.

Recent cases have resulted in multiple people being exposed to rabies. According to the Board of Animal Health, animal and pet owners can reduce the risk of their animals contracting rabies by:

*Vaccinating pets and animals.

*Not feeding wild or stray animals.

*Not approaching wild, stray, or unfamiliar animals.

*Reporting wild animals that are showing abnormal behavior (aggression, fearlessness, or otherwise acting out of character) and reporting all stray animals to local animal control officers since these animals can spread rabies.

*If your animal contacts a wild animal, especially a skunk or a bat, report it to your veterinarian or to the Board of Animal Health at 651-296-2942.

*Animals too young to be vaccinated (less than 12 weeks old) should be housed away from stray and wild animals.

Prevention and control of rabies in Minnesota is a joint effort between the Board of Animal Health and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), as well as veterinary professionals and animal owners.

The Board of Animal Health investigates all rabies cases in animals, as well as domestic animals exposed to rabies. It issues quarantines, makes vaccination recommendations, or advises euthanasia on a case-by-case basis.

The Minnesota Department of Health provides information to people who may have been exposed to rabies and advises health care providers about the need for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis.

If you are bitten by an animal, contact your physician and the Minnesota Department of Health at 1-877-676-5414.

For more information on rabies and a map showing the location of rabies cases, log onto the Board of Animal Health's website at Human rabies information is available at the Department of Health's website at

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