Johnny's story: It could happen to you

Sep 01, 2009

Johnny, a stray puppy, was brought to New Hanover County Animal Control Services by a Good Samaritan. This kind person transported Johnny to our practice because he had been injured and had an open forelimb fracture. Johnny was so cute—how could we not want to save him? His fracture was healing, and many people were considering adopting him. But two weeks later, he got sick and developed neurologic signs. We suspected rabies, so we reluctantly decided to euthanize Johnny and have him tested. The test results were positive. As a consequence, 50 people had to undergo postexposure prophylaxis. Johnny was the first case of canine rabies in New Hanover County in almost 60 years. I can't imagine what would have happened if we had missed the diagnosis.

G. Robert Weedon, DVM, MPH

Johnny developed neurologic signs.
The World Rabies Day initiative underscores the need for veterinarians to be aware of rabies locally—as Johnny's story illustrates—but, more importantly, it raises awareness of the problem globally. About 55,000 people die annually of rabies worldwide; many of them are children bitten by dogs. Increased awareness of the disease by veterinarians and pet owners will ensure that, one day, there will be no more puppies like Johnny.

G. Robert Weedon, DVM, MPH
College Road Animal Hospital
4140 S. College Road
Wilmington, NC 28412