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Dead raccoon found in Shenandoah Junction rabid

January 29, 2001

Dead raccoon found in Shenandoah Junction rabid



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A raccoon that was killed about two weeks ago in the Shenandoah Junction area has tested positive for rabies, prompting health officials to renew their warning about the fatal disease.

The raccoon was killed by a homeowner after the animal entered the man's property, said James Hecker, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Health.

The head of the animal was given to the health department for testing, Hecker said.

Rabies is a disease of the central nervous system that can be transmitted through the saliva of infected animals. It is usually transmitted through a bite, but can also be passed on if the animal licks a person's mouth, eyes or open wounds, health department officials said.

Rabies is fatal to humans who do not receive prompt medical attention.

There have been numerous instances of animals having rabies in the Eastern Panhandle over the years and the disease remains a constant threat, health department officials said.

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Animals with rabies can show aggressive behavior, but they can also "act like your pal," Hecker said. In some cases, animals suffering from rabies will follow humans and act as if they are tame, Hecker said.

Wild animals that are healthy, on the other hand, usually run from humans, he said.

The best approach in dealing with a rabid animal is to shoot it or find some other means to have it destroyed, Hecker said.

Other raccoons that have been acting suspiciously have been spotted in the Shenandoah Junction area, Hecker said.

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