A 9-year-old girl was attacked by a coyote just outside her North Carolina home. She incurred minor wounds and is being treated for rabies. What's the risk?
Last Thursday, March 15, young Madilyn Fowler was just sitting on her porch when, according to her, a coyote decided that it wants to eat her. Reports state that the coyote followed Madilyn home and attacked her at about 6:35 that evening.
Madilyn's mother, April, ran outside to fend off the coyote which latched onto the young girl's skirt. Eventually, the coyote was successfully chased away, but it had already bitten the girl three times, leaving the child with wounds on her face and back, teeth marks, and a 10-inch cut on her back.
"It was a pretty big coyote and it scratched me all over my butt and my back and my face," Madilyn told local news, saying that she thought she was dreaming when the coyote pinned her down.
Madilyn has since been treated for her wounds and had been given five rabies shots with three more to go. Evidently, the said coyote had been trying to attack the family dog before the incident with Madilyn. As such, authorities have notified the residents of the region, and have advised them to be careful and to be mindful of their pets in the following weeks.
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that is present in all continents except Antarctica and causes tens of thousands of deaths each year, with 95 percent of deaths occurring in Asia and Africa. Although there are effective human vaccines for rabies, its victims often come from poor populations where the treatment is not easily accessible. Worldwide, children between the ages of 5 and 14 are frequent victims.
The rabies infection often comes from bites, scratches, or saliva contact, and in humans, 99 percent of rabies cases come from domestic dogs although both domestic and wild animals may be infected. The incubation period of the virus is often between one and three months but may also be between one week and one year depending on the location of the virus entry and the potency of the virus.
One form causes the rabies victim to be hyperactive, afraid of water among other symptoms, while the other type of rabies causes the victim to be gradually paralyzed, leading to eventual comatose and death. Unfortunately, the disease is almost always fatal upon the onset of clinical symptoms.
The first thing that must be done to prevent rabies soon after exposure is to wash the wound extensively for at least 15 minutes with soap, detergent, povidone iodine, or other substance that can kill the virus. And even if the wound does not bleed, it still requires immediate medical attention and vaccination.