Rabies Back In Y-K Delta

Apr 28, 2021

Credit National Science Foundation

Four rabies cases have been confirmed in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta recently.  Three rabid foxes and one rabid dog were found in Nightmute, Alakanuk, and Bethel. Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Lauri Meythaler-Mullins has been working in all three places to vaccinate pets, and to diagnose and confirm cases. She said that the dog that had rabies was euthanized.

“And there were three other dogs in addition that had been euthanized because they came into contact. They were bit by rabid foxes. All four of these dogs, they were not vaccinated,” said Meythaler-Mullins.

Having a vaccine against rabies can make the difference between life and death for a dog. Meythaler-Mullins said that a vaccinated dog does not have to be euthanized if bitten by a rabid animal. Instead, they are quarantined for 45 days and given another vaccine. An unvaccinated animal is not so fortunate.

“If the fox was rabid, the dog will develop rabies. So that dog will have to be euthanized. If we’re uncertain, there will be a longer quarantine for an unvaccinated dog," Meythaler-Mullins said.

Meythaler-Mullins had one final bit of advice for people who shoot rabid animals: don’t shoot them in the head.

“This is really important because they need the brain to test for rabies,” said Meythaler-Mullins.

If your community would like to have a vet administer rabies vaccines or provide other help to combat rabies, contact Dr. Meythaler Mullins on her Facebook page or search "Dr. Lauri YK Vet." You can also contact the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation's Office of Environmental Health.