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‘Rare’ human rabies reported

A resident of Yogaville — a spiritual interfaith community in northwestern Buckingham County — has been diagnosed with a “rare human case” of rabies.

According to a Virginia Department of Health (VDH) press release, the agency “is investigating a confirmed case of human rabies. The Virginia resident was bitten by a dog while traveling in India.”

According to the Department of Health, human rabies cases in the United States are rare, with only one to three cases reported annually. Twenty-eight cases of human rabies have been diagnosed in the United States since 2006, of which eight cases were infected outside the United States and its territories.

“One of our community members was visiting India where they were bitten by a puppy,” said Ernest Siva Moore, executive director of Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville. “More than a month later, the individual had returned to Buckingham and began manifesting symptoms of rabies.”

While the only documented cases of human-to-human transmission of rabies have been via organ transplantation, acting out of an abundance of caution, VDH is assessing those who had direct contact with the patient to see if there is any concern that they may have been exposed to rabies, according to the department’s release.

“It was too late to receive the standard treatment, which prevents the onset of the disease,” Moore said. “Now, the (patient is) receiving the Milwaukee Protocol Treatment. The drug has worked in a handful of cases in recent years. We ask for the prayers of our neighbors and encourage all to take seriously any bite from an animal (that) is not vaccinated against rabies,” Moore said.

“VDH is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and health care centers where the patient sought care, to assess any health care worker who potentially may have been exposed to rabies virus due to contact with this patient,” department officials said in the press release. “VDH is also working to identify any family members and close contacts who may have been exposed to rabies virus due to contact with this patient.”

No additional information about the individual will be released to protect their privacy, Moore and Health Department officials said.

“Our thoughts are with the patient and the patient’s family,” VDH officials said in the release.

“The last time VDH reported a human rabies case was in 2009. This patient had also traveled to India and was bitten by a dog while there,” officials said.

“We have cooperated fully with the VDH to minimize exposure risk and maximize safety,” Moore said.

According to the VDH, those traveling internationally should check with their health care providers about vaccinations or other health precautions that are recommended prior to departure. “A comprehensive resource for travel health recommendations, for health care providers and travelers, is available at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/.”