The family of a 5-month-old baby who was bit by a skunk in Little Falls learned that the animal had rabies on Wednesday, but Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel says there's no need to panic.
The child was bitten on Tuesday, and the animal responsible was killed. Officials at the Community Animal Hospital confirmed the skunk tested positive for rabies and notified the sheriff's office.
Wetzel said the family was informed of the tests, and Kode Burgardt has since been treated for rabies and is now recovering at home.
"Although a positive test for rabies is concerning to members of the general public, it should certainly not cause any form of panic," Wetzel said.
Rabies occurs naturally throughout the state, but residents may wish to make sure pets have been inoculated against the disease.
Wetzel also reminded parents of small children to avoid contact with any wild animal. According to the World Health Organization, 40 percent of those bitten by suspected rabid animals are children 15 years of age and younger.
Anyone who is bitten by an animal should immediately wash the area with the warm, soapy water. That may prevent a rabies infection; however, it is important to contact a physician quickly.
RABIES SIGNS, SYMPTOMS
The rabies virus causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of the rabies virus don't tend to emerge until the late stage of the disease, but once signs of the disease appear, it is usually fatal. The acute period of the disease tends to end after 2-10 days.
The first symptoms of rabies may mimic those of the flu, including general weakness, discomfort, fever or headache. The symptoms can last for days, but they often do not emerge until days before death.
When bitten, there may also be prickling or itching sensations at the site of the wound, but within days, the following symptoms emerge:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Excessive salivation
- Fear of water
Treatment options tend to be supportive only, and survival is rare for those who begin to exhibit signs of the disease. To date, there are less than 10 documented cases of human survival reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Disease prevention usually involves giving a patient passive antibodies through an injection of human immune globulin and a round of injections with the rabies vaccine. The sooner a patient can be seen, the more likely the series of shots will be effective.