Mother, son have rabies scare

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

Fortunately for Dr. Frances Kendrick, she knew better than to shrug off her 10-year-old son&8217;s discovery of a dead bat on their front porch.

Tommy Kendrick, however, didn&8217;t escape what seemed like an innocent incident unscathed.

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After the bat was sent to the Alabama Department of Public Health and tested positive for rabies, Tommy began a preventative vaccination process that has lasted for five weeks. But it could have been a lot worse and a lot lengthier had Kendrick, a local veterinarian, not acted quickly.

Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. Domestic animals account for less than 10 percent of the reported rabies cases, with cats, cattle and dogs most often reported rabid.

Rabies exposure is classified into two types: bite and nonbite.

Kendrick took her son to Children&8217;s Hospital in Birmingham for initial treatment, and he will take the last shot of his follow up treatment at Vaughan Regional Medical Center on Friday.

Alabama law requires a domestic pet vaccinated within the past year that bites a person to be quarantined and observed for 10 days by a licensed veterinarian.

Wild animals or those that lack proper vaccination are quarantined for a period determined by the Alabama Department of Public Health after consultation with the U.S. Public Health Service. After examination, they are humanely destroyed, and their heads are sent to the state health department for examination.

There are two major problems that arise in cases like these: failure to report bites, which is illegal in Alabama, and irresponsibility in dealing with animals.

Trying to take in wild animals as pets is a poor idea.

Wells said his office sees few cases like Kendrick&8217;s during a given year, likely because many people don&8217;t report them.