Rabies Scare: The Other Part Of “Preach” Is Practice

by Ellie Goldstein

More than a few of us have been in that unfortunate situation where we had to deal with a skunked dog just about the time we’d rather be contemplating a good night’s sleep. I was in that position one night this past July and made several serious mistakes about which I’d like to caution you.

I own borzoi as well as greyhounds and one of the “hairies,” Ari, came into the house redolent of skunk (but not with the same overwhelming stench of a direct hit). I looked him over for any signs of overt battle with the skunk, found none so assumed he’d been inside the fence while the skunk had been outside. I worked a dry shampoo into his neck hair, and face – just to reduce the stench level a bit until morning when I figured I could deal with the problem. That was mistake #1!

Next morning to my surprise in the back yard was the body of a young skunk, neatly dispatched, and like Ari, totally without apparent wounds. Mistake #2, I buried the creature.

It wasn’t until almost three days later the error of my ways was pointed out to me by Physician’s Assistant friend, Jordan Graustark. I’d made potentially deadly mistakes and had only two options open to me: 1) I could exhume the body and have its brain tested for rabies or 2) I would have to undergo the post rabies exposure treatment. “If” the skunk were rabid and “if” I were to develop rabies, I was going to die.

Calls to a doctor friend, several animal control officers and our local health department resulted in the same feedback from all – the carcass most likely would not have survived the terrible heat we were having and tests on its brain might be inconclusive or impossible to attain.

So this retired teacher, who for so many years taught children never to handle an animal that’s capable of carrying rabies (even the family pet), forgot her preaching and had to undergo the post rabies exposure treatment. It’s no longer a painful treatment but long and expensive and totally unnecessary had I practiced what I preached.

Autumn brings with it the continued threat of rabies. Be forewarned as any body fluid from a rabid animal is capable of transmitting the disease.


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