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Animal shelter workers need rabies vaccine

ATLANTA, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Workers at animal shelters should get the rabies vaccine series prior to starting their job because of the possibility of exposure, U.S. health officials say.

Thursday's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report describes the public health response to the identification of a rabid dog in an animal shelter.

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Rabies is a fatal disease in humans and an immediate investigation was initiated using animal shelter records and a public notification to identify possible human and animal contacts to the rabid dog, CDC health officials say.

"Twenty-one persons, including nine animal shelter employees, received rabies post-exposure prophylaxis -- a series of rabies vaccines," the report said. "Thirty-six dogs without evidence of current rabies vaccination were euthanized due to potential contact with the rabid dog."

Health officials concluded that since animal shelter employees have the potential to come into contact with rabid animals, they should consider receiving the rabies vaccine series prior to starting their job duties. The report also highlights the need for routine rabies vaccination of domestic animals.

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