May 10, 2006
The Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services department today announced that rabies has been confirmed in a teenage boy from the county.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), this is the fourth human case of rabies in Texas since 2000 and the 43rd since 1950.
In 2004 three Texas residents developed rabies after having organ or tissue transplants.
The last human case of rabies in Texas linked to animal exposure was in a Harris County resident in 1997. The man likely was infected by a bat during a visit to East Texas.
The Harris County teenager is believed to have become infected several weeks ago by a bat that entered his bedroom through an open window.
The department is conducting a follow-up investigation to determine if any of the boy's close contacts need post-exposure treatment to prevent rabies. DSHS and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are assisting.
Since 2003 rabies has been detected in bats from 78 of the state's 254 counties.
Public health officials warn that people should stay away from bats and close any openings into dwellings through which a bat could enter.
They also remind the public to avoid touching bats and to stay away from wild animals and stray domestic animals. Parents are urged to make sure children understand these warnings.
Residents also should keep rabies vaccinations current for dogs and cats.
Rabies is almost always fatal in humans once symptoms occur.
(News Media: for more information contact Doug McBride, DSHS Press Officer, 512-458-7524.)