Delaware woman dies of rabies in what is considered the state's first case since 1941

The woman succumbed to her disease last week, but the test results did not show that she had rabies until it was too late.


                            Delaware woman dies of rabies in what is considered the state's first case since 1941

According to recent reports, a woman in Delaware died of rabies, and she is being considered as the first woman to die of the fatal disease in the state since 1941. The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) said that the woman, who is unnamed, had visited a Delaware hospital in late July after feeling sick, and she was immediately moved to a Pennsylvania hospital when her condition started to deteriorate. According to reports by People magazine, the woman succumbed to her disease last week, but the test results did not show that she had rabies until it was too late. Reports suggest that the health officials are still quite unsure as to how the woman came in contact with the disease in the first place.

Jake Degen holds down his cat U'da while he gets a rabies vaccination shot at the Staten Island's Animal Care and Control Shelter February 7, 2007 in Staten Island, New York. The shelter is currently offering free rabies vaccination shots to cats after an outbreak of rabies has resulted in 38 raccoons and four stray cats contracted the disease. Rabies can be passed to humans from a bite or scratch from a rabid animal, often resulting in death if not treated immediately.
Jake Degen holds down his cat U'da while he gets a rabies vaccination shot at the Staten Island's Animal Care and Control Shelter February 7, 2007 in Staten Island, New York. The shelter is currently offering free rabies vaccination shots to cats after an outbreak of rabies has resulted in 38 raccoons and four stray cats contracted the disease. Rabies can be passed to humans from a bite or scratch from a rabid animal, often resulting in death if not treated immediately.

The rabies virus is something that spreads through animal bites, typically from coyotes, raccoons, bats, foxes and other animals carrying the disease. The virus usually infects the nervous system quickly, and symptoms of the ailment include a fever, muscle spasms, headaches, mental confusion and more. Since there is no effective treatment for this disease, it is almost always considered fatal in nature. 

“Because rabies is a fatal disease once symptoms develop, we urge all Delawareans to ensure they are taking steps to avoid exposure,” DPH director Dr. Karyl Rattay said in a press release. "This is a largely preventable disease." Important preventive measures include vaccinating your pets (dogs, cats and ferrets over the age of 6 months as required by state law); consulting with your private veterinarian regarding vaccination of livestock and horses; avoiding touching unfamiliar animals, even if they appear friendly; and being on the lookout for potentially rabid animals (foxes, cats, dogs, bats, raccoons, etc.).

She also advised in the release that: "It is imperative to report animal bites and scratches immediately to state health officials so that preventive treatment can be initiated. If the animal is unavailable to be quarantined or tested, DPH recommends that people receive post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), a series of four vaccinations, as a precautionary measure. Anyone who has been bitten, scratched by, or come in close contact with, a stray, wild or unfamiliar animal, should immediately contact their healthcare provider 

According to earlier records, the last registered case of rabies in Delaware was in 1941 when a young boy in Newport contracted the disease from a dog bite.