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Parents accuse Army of 'criminal negligence' in soldier's rabies death

The parents of a U.S. soldier who died from rabies after being bitten by a dog in Afghanistan are accusing the Army of “criminal negligence” in his death, the Army Times reported Wednesday.

A military investigation concluded that even though Spc. Kevin Shumaker had reported the dog bite to a veterinarian and on a post-deployment health form, he was ultimately responsible for not telling his superiors.


Shumaker’s death is the first fatal case of rabies in the U.S. military since the Vietnam War, officials have said.

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Shumaker, of Livermore, Calif., was 24 when he died on Aug. 21, 2011, in a New York hospital of the preventable and treatable disease. His death occurred eight months after the dog bite in Afghanistan, according to a military investigation. The results of the investigation have been reported in both the Army Times and Stars & Stripes.

Although Shumaker told them of the bite, military health officials did not make sure he was treated properly for the virus, according to the report. He told his parents that he was treated for rabies at the base but said the series of injections he needed was not completed because some of the medication had expired.

The military probe placed most of the blame on Shumaker and his command for ignoring general military orders, called General Order-1B, which forbids pets or mascots.

“The principal contributing factors to SPC Shumaker contracting rabies are the Command’s lack of enforcement of GO-1B, SPC Shumaker’s non-adherence to GO-1B and Shumaker’s failure to seek prompt medical treatment, and no treatment was given,” the report, a copy of which was obtained by Stars & Stripes, said. The report was dated October 2011 but was not given to the Taylors until mid-January.

Now, Shumaker’s mother and stepfather, Elaine and David Taylor, say Army officials should be held accountable for the death.

“If you ask me as a mom what I would like to see, it’s accountability for the people who were neglectful, who caused Kevin’s death,” Elaine Taylor told the Army Times. “You can’t take Kev away from me and allow the chain of command, who was responsible for Kevin, to go on and live happily; nothing happens to them.”

It was unclear if the Taylors were pursuing legal action or another form accountability from the military. The Taylors could not be immediately reached by msnbc.com for comment.

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