By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
Nebraska health officials have reported fifteen animals have tested positive for rabies so far this year, 12 of them bats, prompting reminding residents to avoid wild animals including bats and vaccinate pets.
“Bats are responsible for carrying much of the rabies virus in Nebraska,” said Dr. Bryan Buss, State Public Health Veterinarian for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. “We’re well into the peak time of the year for bat activity. People should be cautious around bats and other wild animals, like skunks, which are another common rabies carrier.”
In addition to bats and skunks, other wildlife such as foxes, coyotes and raccoons can have rabies and transmit it to people. Rabies is caused by a virus that affects the nervous system and is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal or if saliva from a rabid animal gets directly into an open wound or a person’s eyes, nose or mouth. Rabies is generally fatal without preventive treatment.
In addition, health officials announced the recent identification of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in York County.
It is the first time this particular type of mosquito species has been found in the state. Aedes aegypti is common in more tropical climates where it transmits such diseases as Zika virus, chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever.
“Aedes aegypti can carry and transmit various diseases that can have serious health consequences like Zika virus, chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever, and that is of concern to public health officials,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for DHHS. “However, the transmission of these pathogens would require a person currently infected with such a disease to be bitten by an Aedes aegypti mosquito and then that mosquito would need to bite another uninfected person. The risk of these infections to local residents is low but also dependent on the presence or arrival of an infected individual in the area.”
The Aedes aegypti bites primarily in the daytime and only feeds on people. It doesn’t have the ability to fly very far, only about 500 feet.
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