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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- At least eight children who had contact with potentially rabid animals have had to undergo rabies vaccinations because the animals were released instead of being tested for rabies, Utah County health officials said.
This week, a 9-year-old Spanish Fork boy was forced to take the $1,200 series of rabies shots after authorities released the wild mink that had bitten him.
Riley Brown was in his classroom at Rees Elementary School on Monday when another student thought he saw a cat in the mud room next door. Riley and others went to see the animal, and pursued it from room to room. When Riley tried to grab it, the mink tore off part of his fingernail, bit him and scratched him.
Animal control officers captured the mink, and Riley's mother, Lisa Brown, said she was told by the school's nurse that the animal would be tested for rabies.
Riley's father, Cory Brown, said he called Spanish Fork police on Thursday to get those results, only to be told the animal had not been tested -- it had been let go.
Spanish Fork Police Chief Dee Rosenbaum said he had not had a chance to review the incident.
"We want to look into it and see if anything improper was done, and rectify it if it was done," he said.
Justin Jones, spokesman for the Utah County Health Department, said police never notified the department about the animal bite, as they are required by law to do, and did not consult the health department before releasing the animal.
State law requires police and veterinarians to report any potential rabies exposure to the health department so that rabies immunizations can be ordered, should animals fail a rabies test or not be available for testing, Jones said.
Dr. Joseph Miner, executive director of the health department, said letters have been sent to police and veterinarians, warning them that all wild animals that have had contact with children and adults must be tested for rabies.
Miner said Spanish Fork police told him the warning came a day too late.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)