According to the Missouri State Department of Health, the number of rabies cases reported across the state is lower this year. Officials say there’s been 14 rabies cases reported in animals so far this year in Missouri… which is significantly lower than the 39 rabies cases reported at this time last year.
The numbers may sound reassuring, but a local pharmacist is recovering from a recent rabies scare.
Pharmacist Miguel Nunez says, ”At the time that I was bitten, if I would get off my bike, or if I would fall off my bike, they probably would have eaten me alive.”
Pharmacist Miguel Nunez says he was attacked by a dog while he was out for a bike ride on a farm road in Greene County on July sixth.
”The dog owner pointed out to a deputy that the dogs didn’t have a vet and the dogs had never seen a vet, “ says Nunez, “That concerned me.”
Greene County Sheriff’s Office officials confirmed the dog was put down, and its test results showed the animal did not have rabies. However, Nunez says he decided to undergo rabies treatment because he had no way of knowing if the dog was vaccinated.
”I will have completed 15 shots all together. They’re all painful,” explains Nunez, “They don’t want to dilute it by using local anesthesia.”
Nunez had someone videotape his receiving 11 shots during his initial treatment to show just how painful it was. He says the treatment felt worse than the dog bite itself.
”The pain that I described through is like someone injecting, I would say acid onto the skin,” says Nunez.
Officials at the Springfield Greene County Public Health Center say cases of rabies in humans is actually incredibly rare. But if someone does catch it, they’ll die.
Springfield, Greene County Health Department Community Health Administrator Kendra Findley says, ”It takes approximately three to eight weeks from when you’re exposed to when you develop symptoms of rabies, and again, once those symptoms start, it is fatal.”
Findley says the health department focuses on making sure humans don’t get infected.
”If an animal has rabies disease, it will actively be in their saliva,” she says, “So just coming in contact with their saliva could cause rabies, although that would be fairly rare circumstance.”
Findley says one of the best ways to prevent the spread is getting your pets vaccinated. She also tells people to steer clear of wild animals that are known to carry the illness, such as skunks and bats. According to the state health department, out of the 14 cases that were reported in wild animals this year, seven were rabid bats and the rest were skunks.
You can find the state’s full report on rabies statistics here.