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16 get rabies shots in January

February 03, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Sixteen Washington County residents possibly were exposed to rabies in January, and some have reported trouble getting the necessary treatment.

Stephen Lippoldt encountered a raccoon Jan. 19 on his farm near Clear Spring. He and others killed the raccoon after the animal fought with Lippoldt's dogs.

The raccoon later tested positive for rabies, Lippoldt said.

Because he had contact with the dogs, Lippoldt was advised to get the rabies vaccination package when he went to the emergency room on Wednesday, Jan. 24, he said. Two other people, including his wife, Theresa, might have been exposed during the same incident, Lippoldt said.

In the emergency room, Lippoldt's group met four Fairplay residents who also possibly had been exposed, Lippoldt said.

The rabies treatment package consists of two different types of injections, Washington County Health Department officials said. RabAvert is a vaccine injected five different times over about a month, said Elizabeth Nuckles, communicable disease program manager for the health department.

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The other part of the treatment is rabies immune globulin, which Rod MacRae, public information officer for the health department, described as "passive immunity." The antibodies in the rabies immune globulin already are developed when it is injected, MacRae said.

The Washington County Health Department has records of 16 cases where people were exposed to rabies as of Friday, MacRae said.

The 16 possible exposures occurred in three separate incidents, MacRae said. One of the incidents occurred in the Clear Spring area and another near Maugansville, he said. MacRae was unsure where in Washington County the third incident happened.

The amount of rabies immune globulin injected is determined by the exposed individual's weight, MacRae said.

The manufacturer recently changed the ordering procedure for rabies immune globulin, Nuckles said. Because the rabies immune globulin is in short supply, the health department now must order the treatment on a case-by-case basis, she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends administering the rabies immune globulin within seven days of the first dose of RabAvert, Nuckles said.

Lippoldt received his first injection of RabAvert on Wednesday, Jan. 24, and reported back to the hospital for the vaccine on Saturday, Jan. 27, he said. The rabies immune globulin was not available that day, and he returned for the injection Wednesday, Jan. 31.

MacRae said the current ordering procedure presents a problem because people who might have been exposed have to visit the hospital twice.

"It's an inconvenience," MacRae said. "I don't think it's compromised anyone's treatment."

Montgomery County Health and Human Services keeps a supply of the rabies immune globulin on hand, said Mary Anderson, spokeswoman for the department.

The Frederick County Health Department has been ordering the rabies immune globulin on an as-needed basis for six months, department spokeswoman Angela Blair said.




2006 exposures

In 2006, the Washington County Health Department reported that 99 people required rabies immune globulin treatment after possible rabies exposure, said Rod MacRae, public information officer for the health department. More than one-third of the incidents involved people touching stray cats.

Other animals that presented with rabies, causing people to require vaccination, included:

23 foxes

15 bats

10 dogs

9 raccoons

3 skunks

1 squirrel

1 groundhog

3 unknown

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