Veterans Administration officials in the U.P. are notifying newly returned Veterans (and their families) from Iraq and Afghanistan that they are at risk of rabies if exposed to animal bites or saliva of animals while deployed in the previous 18 months.
Brad Nelson, Public Affairs Officer at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain says, “We are urging them to get evaluated by a VA or other health care provider right away.”
This comes after a U.S. soldier who had served in Afghanistan died of rabies this last August, months after returning to the U.S. Veterans who had an animal bite or scratch, contact with wet animal saliva, or had a bat in their sleeping quarters could be at risk for rabies and should talk to their VA or other health care provider as soon as possible.
Call the VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain at 1-800-215-8262 or any one of its seven outpatient clinics in Sault Ste Marie, Manistique, Menominee, Marquette, Hancock, Ironwood or Rhinelander, WI, at 1-877-470-3811.
Rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted to people through bites, scratches and exposure to the animal’s saliva and can lead to a deadly brain infection. However, it can be easily prevented through a vaccination before symptoms occur.
The following websites provide more details and links: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/rabies and http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/20111025a.asp.