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Sheridan Public Health officials report nine COVID cases and show some concern on two rabies cases

A block of stores in Sheridan.
(Will Walkey/Wyoming Public Media)
The Town of Sheridan.

A recent report from Sheridan County Public Health lists nine COVID-19 cases, seven cases of chlamydia and two cases of rabies in the month of March.

Edward Hinzman, the county’s public health response coordinator, says these numbers aren’t surprising or necessarily alarming. Hinzman acknowledges that there are most likely unreported cases of COVID, but says Sheridan County is only aware of two ongoing cases.

“It doesn't seem to be that big of an issue in terms of symptoms or people getting hospitalized and that sort of thing. The CDC still has us down as a low hospitalization rate for the entirety of Wyoming,” said Hinzman.

The New York Times' COVID tracker says Wyoming is averaging six hospitalizations per 100,000 people, down significantly from a peak around the winter holidays. Regardless, Hinzman and health officials still encourage the public to practice good health standards. This includes masking or staying home if you’re sick or showing symptoms, drinking lots of liquids and washing your hands. Hinzman also suggested the newest booster for those who need it, stressing that not everyone is recommended to get the booster this time around.

“The newer boosters, which we received in September of 2023, are recommended for individuals over the age of 65, or immunocompromised individuals. So the word that we're getting is not everybody needs the booster [but] you're welcome to get it,” he said.

In addition to the cases of COVID, the county reported two cases of rabies-positive animals. Both were reported as skunks. Hinzman said environmental conditions may have played into the circumstances.

“I know this year, for example, because it's been an exceptionally warm winter and spring, a lot more animals are out and about earlier than they were at least for last year. So to have positives just in March alone is a bit concerning.”

Hinzman emphasized that public health officials are monitoring for other cases, as well as informing area residents to avoid contact with certain animals. He says there are some telltale signs an animal may be infected with rabies.

“Stay away from animals that are exhibiting unusual behavior, overly aggressive, or overly sleepy, or walking around in daytime if they're nocturnal,” said Hinzman.

Hinzman notes that rabies cases in the past have come from wild and domesticated animals such as cows, horses, deer and bats. While dogs and cats are possible carriers as well, Hinzman says there is no evidence of rabies in domesticated pet or stray populations.

“At least within the past four years or so, there hasn't been any cat reported positive or dogs reported positive … And as far as the strays, we're not seeing rabies in the stray population.”

Members of the public who believe they may be encountering an animal with rabies should stay away from the animal, call their local dispatch and ask for animal control. Hinzman says this applies for injured or hurt animals as well.

“There was a couple of reports last year of people seeing a sick bat and then bringing it into the house and trying to nurse it back to health. We definitely don't advise you to do that,” said Hinzman.

Jordan Uplinger was born in NJ but has traveled since 2013 for academic study and work in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He gained experience in a multitude of areas, including general aviation, video editing, and political science. In 2021, Jordan's travels brought him to find work with the Wyoming Conservation Corps as a member of Americorps. After a season with WCC, Jordan continued his Americorps service with the local non-profit, Feeding Laramie Valley. His deep interest in the national discourse on class, identity, American politics and the state of material conditions globally has led him to his current internship with Wyoming Public Radio and NPR.
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