A stray dog found in Detroit has been confirmed to have rabies. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) informed Oakland County Animal Control of the situation after the canine was taken to a veterinary hospital in Farmington Hills, where the animal tested positive for the virus. According to a press release, this marks the first ever documented case of a dog with rabies in Oakland County.
Discovery and diagnosis of rabies in Detroit stray dog
As reported by ClickOnDetroit, a local of Oakland County discovered the dog on Detroit’s streets and took the animal in for three days. However, the dog began to show signs of rabies on Oct. 25, which prompted the resident to take the canine to the Advanced Veterinary Medical Center in Farmington Hills. After examining the pooch, a veterinarian concluded that euthanasia was necessary.
The deceased animal’s body was transferred to Oakland County Animal Control and later moved to the MDHHS lab in Lansing. On Nov. 1, the county received confirmation from MDHHS that the dog had tested positive for rabies.
Bob Gatt — manager of Oakland County Animal Control — emphasized the importance of vaccinating pets. “This rabies case is a reminder of how vital it is for dog owners to have their pets vaccinated to prevent the spread of disease,” he stated. “It not only protects other pets but children and adults, as well.”
Officials clarified that there is no evidence of the dog biting the resident or anyone else it came into contact with. However, the resident was exposed to the dog’s saliva.
Precautions and resources for dealing with potential rabies exposure
Oakland County Medical Director Russell Faust said, “If a person or a pet is exposed to any wild or unknown animal, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water, then seek medical or veterinary attention immediately, even if the animal was previously vaccinated.” He added, “The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and is spread through bites or scratches.”
The county offers the following preventive guidelines:
- Ensure regular pet vaccinations to safeguard them against disease exposure and prevent illness transmission to humans.
- Avoid contact with stray, wild, or deceased animals.
- Keep pets indoors, supervise outdoor activities, and use a leash while walking to minimize exposure to potentially rabid wildlife.
- Educate children never to approach unfamiliar animals, whether they are wild or domestic, even if they seem friendly.
- Refrain from leaving food or water outside for pets when unsupervised.
- Securely cover garbage to deter wild or stray animals from being attracted to it.
As of Oct. 20, 2023, Michigan has recorded 49 confirmed cases of rabies, excluding the instance involving the dog discovered in Detroit.
For the convenience of pet owners, rabies vaccines for dogs are provided for free on Tuesday mornings at the Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center with the purchase of a dog license. Further information is available online at oakgov.com/petadoption.