The Arkansas Department of Health is cooperating with the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) which is seeking the seller of, as well as persons who purchased or had direct contact with, Bluetick/Walker Coonhound mix puppies that were sold at the Bivens Dog Trade located in Sulphur, OK, on Sunday, June 9. The Bluetick/Walker Coonhound mix puppies are described as approximately 10 weeks old with black, brown and white markings (see photo – all puppies in the litter had similar appearance). There were five to six puppies for sale for $100 each by an individual described as an adult male, Caucasian, approximately 6 feet tall, early 50s, medium build, wearing a tan uniform-style shirt, with red hair and a mustache, and living in the southern Oklahoma region. The seller was accompanied by a young adult male with slender build and dark brown hair.
Sulphur is located near the Chicasaw National Recreation Area. The Bivens Dog Trade is located north of Hwy 7 on Hwy 177 in Sulphur. While at Bivens on June 9, the seller was located south of the entrance with other individuals selling dogs. On Wednesday, June 12, one of the purchased puppies developed symptoms consistent with rabies and subsequently died. Rabies testing at the OSDH Public Health Laboratory confirmed the presence of rabies.
Public health officials are asking the seller of the mixed-breed Coonhound puppies, persons who purchased a puppy from the seller, or anyone who may have come in direct contact with the puppies in the litter to contact the OSDH Epidemiologist-on-Call at (405) 271-4060 or (800) 234-5963. Health officials want to assess persons’ exposure to the rabid puppy and to locate the other puppies from the same litter quickly as they may have been exposed to the rabies virus. Health officials must conduct personal interviews to determine if individuals who had physical contact with the rabid puppy need to receive immunizations to prevent rabies.
Persons who were bitten by the rabid puppy or had the puppy’s saliva get into a cut or fresh wound on the skin or mucous membranes (eyes, lining of the nose, or mouth) may have been exposed to rabies virus.
Rabies is a viral disease that can be transmitted to animals and humans mainly by a bite, but exposure may also occur through inoculation of saliva or nervous tissue into an opening in the skin or mucous membrane. Some animals are more likely to be infected with rabies than others. Skunks, bats, raccoons, foxes, and coyotes, have strains of rabies virus adapted to their species. The rabies viruses in Oklahoma include those adapted to skunks and bats. All warm-blooded mammals including dogs, cats, horses, and cattle can become infected with rabies virus. Thus far in Oklahoma in 2013, there have been a total of 43 cases of animal rabies, including six dogs.
Those with information or concerns may contact the OSDH Epidemiologist-on-Call at (405) 271-4060 or (800) 234-5963.