State officials scramble to halt rabies spread in Progreso

State health authorities are going door to door to make sure animals are vaccinated for rabies. Photo: Facebook
State health authorities are going door to door to make sure animals are vaccinated for rabies. Photo: Facebook

Progreso, Yucatán – The Ministry of Health is investigating a rabies case in Col. Nueva Yucalpetén, where a pit bull bit her owner.

The 3-year-old dog, named Canela, tested positive for the viral disease, and three other dogs that lived in the same house are under medical observation. Sadly, the dog was put down, and her owner is under medical treatment.

This is the city’s first case of rabies in 20 years, said Javier Couoh Jiménez, former municipal ecology coordinator.

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Yucatan Health Services will decide what to do with the dogs that lived with the rabid pit bull, reports Progreso Hoy.

Brigades of medical personnel, with the support of municipal authorities, have been sweeping surrounding neighborhoods house-to-house to vaccinate area dogs and cats that are within reach. Members of the brigade can be identified by their yellow vests and official ID cards. The medical treatment is free of charge.

The timing of a possible outbreak is unfortunate, coinciding with the Easter holiday.

The pit bull’s owner said he adopted Canela when she was three months old, but he admitted that never vaccinated her.

But the dog bit him on his shoulder when he was attempting to carry his pet to the vet. The dog had stopped eating, was sluggish and had lost her coordination.

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Authorities have implored pet owners to pay special attention to the needs of their animal companions, especially this time of year when the heat rises. 

About rabies

Rabies is an often fatal viral infection that specifically affects the gray matter of an animal’s brain and its central nervous system. It is often transmitted to dogs after a bite from wild animals, including skunks and bats.

The virus can take up to a month to develop, but once the symptoms have begun, the virus progresses rapidly. And the infection can be transmitted to humans. 

Rabies is characterized by behavioral changes, including aggression, or weakness and loss of coordination, followed by paralysis.

This fast-moving virus must be treated immediately once an infection is suspected.

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