Festus Animal Control Officer forced to have rabies shots, following dog bite

FESTUS, MO – A dog bite in Jefferson County has led to a rabies scare with a city official being tested for rabies and a dog and wolf-hybrid being tested for the virus.

Festus Animal Control Officer Tim Mullins has started treatment for rabies but he swears it’s just a precaution.
"I have not gone through a process like this in 15 years," Officer Mullins said. "It is possible that it can happen, but it is very rare."

Mullins said on Friday, someone surrendered a dog to the Festus Animal Control. He said the dog bit him on the finger as he was trying to lift it out of a crate.

It turns out the dog had bit another person just the day before.

A phone call from a department in Illinois alerted Mullins to a possible reason why the dog expressed aggressive behavior, "that this animal had been in another altercation with another animal and that animal is suspected of having rabies," he said.

The fight was between the dog and someone's wolf hybrid pet in Illinois.

Both animals were put down for testing which takes 48 hours to reveal results.

The Jefferson County Health Department said there is no need for alarm because most pets are vaccinated against rabies now.

They haven't seen a rabies case in a human since 2008 and a bat was the only animal to test positive in the county since 2011.

If there's any concern, the animal in question is quarantined for 10 days, so experts can watch for symptoms and the person affected gets a few shots.

"They're given like any type of shot like the flu shot just right in the deltoid, in the shoulder," said Dylan Steigerwald, an epidemiologist with the Jefferson County Health Department. "It's a series of 4 and they don't hurt any more or less than any other vaccination you might receive."