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Jefferson County logs another rabies case

March 11, 2001

Jefferson County logs another rabies case



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


Jefferson County has logged its second rabies case in less than a month.

The case involved a woman who was bitten by a rabid cat in the Millville, W.Va., area on Feb. 9, said James Hecker, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Health.

The woman, who health officials did not identify, has completed a series of rabies' shots and is doing well, Hecker said.

The woman was bitten when she attempted to feed the cat, Hecker said. Animal control officers were able to capture the animal, which later tested positive for rabies.

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In mid-January, a raccoon that was killed by a homeowner after it entered his property in the Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., area tested positive for rabies.

Incidents of rabies occur occasionally in the area, and there does not seem to be a serious rabies threat there, Hecker said.

"But the notion the disease is fading is untrue," Hecker said.

As the weather becomes warmer, disease has a greater chance of spreading because the germs survive better in warm weather than cold weather, Hecker said.

Hecker said he is also concerned about the common belief that rabies mostly affects dogs. In fact, cats are more susceptible to rabies, Hecker said. A bite from a rabid animal is more likely to cause the disease to spread to a cat because of its smaller body make-up, he said.

To avoid the disease, health officials are urging people to:

-- Have pets vaccinated and keep the shots current.

-- Do not let pets run loose.

-- Avoid contact with wild animals and stray pets.

-- Report unusual acting animals to Jefferson County Animal Control.

-- Seek immediate medical attention if bitten by a suspiciously-acting animal.

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 almost always fatal to the infected animal and can be deadly to humans who do not receive prompt medical attention.

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