November 01, 2007
The pack entered Marshall last Thursday, October 25th and killed three adult dogs and three pups in one dog yard. One wolf was killed and several others may have been wounded by residents of the village. Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) Wildlife Veterinarian Kimberlee Beckmen said it is possible other wolves in the pack have the disease as well.
"Rabies virus is present in saliva, and when several animals eat from the same source, the virus can be quickly spread to other members of the pack," Dr. Beckmen said. "However, rabies is extremely rare in wolves in Alaska."
No humans were injured by the wolves in Marshall. The people who came in contact with the rabid wolf when it was killed, skinned, and necropsied are being evaluated to determine if they were exposed to rabies virus.
Several dogs were bitten by wolves from the same pack. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Division of Public Health (DPH) advised dog owners in Marshall that if their dogs were previously vaccinated to have them revaccinated immediately, and then confine and observe them for 45 days to make sure they don't come down with the disease.
Unvaccinated dogs that were exposed to the wolves run a very high risk of developing rabies in the next few weeks and can expose other animals and people. The DPH has strongly recommended that unvaccinated dogs be euthanized to prevent the risk of spreading the rabies virus to people or other animals.
Dog owners in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta with questions or concerns should contact the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation Office of Environmental Health (OEH) at (907) 543-6420. Office of Environmental Health personnel are identifying and locating all dogs known to have been exposed to the wolves. State Veterinarian Dr. Robert Gerlach has contacted veterinarians in the region to enlist their assistance as well.
Only 18 wolves have tested
positive for the disease in Alaska since 1977. The last confirmed
case occurred in 1998 in a wolf from the Dillingham area. The
disease is more commonly found in foxes in coastal areas, and
some 35 animals have tested positive for rabies since 2006, along
the west coast and North Slope of Alaska. As a result, efforts
were made to vaccinate dogs in several Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta
villages in 2007.
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