A warning from the Lubbock Health Department has now grown to a statewide alert, since authorities still have not found the woman who brought a stray puppy to the Lubbock Animal Shelter last week that turned out to have rabies.
The dog was an Australian Shepherd Mix and looked like the puppy pictured right who was up for adoption at the Adopt-A-Thon a week ago last Saturday. More than 100 people "shopped" for pets that afternoon of April 30th and the next Monday the puppy actually went home with a family.
No one was bitten by the puppy, but you don't need to be bitten to get rabies. Rabies can also be transmitted by saliva. The concern is there may be many more hands out there that pet the cute little puppy at the animal shelter last week, and they may have been exposed to rabies which is an illness which is almost always fatal.
"About 98% of the time you will die. It is a very, very fatal illness in humans as well as animals. Once you do start showing symptoms at that point it is usually too late. So we really want to make sure that anybody that has had an actual exposure to that animal we have identified them and offered treatment to those people," says Kelly Northcott, Public Health Preparedness Coordinator.
Early signs of rabies include pain, tingling, or itching at site of entry and then fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches, and irritability. These symptoms usually show up between 30 to 60 days, but Kelly says the virus has been known to show up 7 years after the infection. That's why health officials are trying to find people, litter mates or any other animals that might have been exposed. The reason this effort is statewide now is because officials think someone might have dropped off the Australian Shepherd Mix on their way out of town.
For more information, call Kelly Northcott at 775-2941.