More rabies cases confirmed in Jefferson County

March 23, 2001

More rabies cases confirmed in Jefferson County

By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Four more cases of rabies have been confirmed in Jefferson County since March 1, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to six since Jan. 19, a county health official said Thursday.

It is too early to tell if the county may face a dangerous outbreak of the disease this year, but "vigilance is necessary," said James Hecker, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Health.

"They're all over the place, and as the hot weather comes, we think there will be more and more of these things," Hecker said.

Hecker is urging pet owners not to let their pets run loose, which can increase their chances of coming into contact with a rabid animal.


In all four new cases reported, pets have come into contact with rabid raccoons, Hecker said.

According to Hecker, the incidents occurred on:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> March 1, when a raccoon was found dead in a yard in the Summit Point, W.Va., area. It is presumed two dogs that belonged to the owner of the house killed the raccoon. One dog was destroyed and the other was given a rabies booster shot.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> March 3, when a raccoon was observed staying around a house on Warm Springs Road near Kearneysville, W.Va. A German shepherd at the house later attacked and killed the animal. The dog had up-to-date vaccinations and was given a rabies booster shot.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> March 13, when a dog killed a raccoon on Moler's Crossroads near Bakerton. The dog had up-to-date vaccinations and was given a rabies booster shot.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> March 13, when a homeowner arrived at his house on Hostler Road along W.Va. 9 East and found a mangled raccoon on his porch. It is presumed two cats at the house killed it. Both cats had up-to-date vaccinations and were given rabies booster shots.

The two previous cases involved a woman who was bitten by a rabid cat in the Millville area on Feb. 9 and a rabid raccoon that was found at a home in the Shenandoah Junction area in mid-January.

The woman who was bitten by the cats received a series of rabies shots and is doing well, Hecker said.

To avoid the disease, health officials urge people to:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Have pets vaccinated and keep shots current.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Avoid contact with wild animals and stray pets.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Report any animal that is acting in a strange manner to Jefferson County Animal Control.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Seek immediate medical attention if bitten by a suspicious-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 fatal to the infected animal and to humans once they display symptoms of the disease.

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