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Rabies cases double in 2001

May 11, 2001

Rabies cases double in 2001



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

There have been eight documented cases of rabies in Washington County since February, twice the number of cases reported last year at this time, according to Washington County Health Department officials.

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In light of the increased number of rabies cases in wild animals, Health Department officials warn area residents to have their pets inoculated and to use caution around wild animals.

Rabies, a viral infection of the brain, is most commonly found in raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. It is transmitted by the saliva of infected animals.

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An animal that is rabid typically acts in an aggressive manner and shows no fear of people or dogs, health officials said. Such animals should be avoided, they said.

"They oftentimes stumble or appear drunk," said Rod MacRae, a spokesman for the Washington County Health Department.

MacRae said the prevalence of rabies is cyclical and Washington County is currently going through an upswing.

If a person or a pet is bitten or scratched by an animal suspected of being rabid, the Washington County Humane Society can be contacted and will remove the animal for testing, said MacRae.

He said the disease is always fatal to animals unless they have been inoculated.

People who are at high risk of exposure to rabies can be vaccinated against the disease. People who are exposed to the disease are treated with a series of shots.

Once symptoms of the disease appear, rabies is usually fatal in humans.

The Health Department is sponsoring rabies clinics in Boonsboro and Hagerstown this month.

For a $5 charge for each cat or dog, pet owners can have their animals immunized:

- May 16 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Shafer Memorial Park in Boonsboro

- May 23 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Doub Woods Park in Hagerstown.

The following rabies cases were reported to the Washington County Health Department.

- Feb. 1, A fox was killed by a vaccinated dog in the Paradise Homes neighborhood north of Paradise Church Road.

- Feb. 19, A raccoon was found dead in a yard off Burnside Bridge Road in southern Washington County.

- Feb. 10, A raccoon was found dead in a dog kennel containing a single pet.

- Feb. 13, A raccoon was found dead near a pond in a horse pasture.

- March 11, A cat that was seen lying for two days in an Alexander Street yard was picked up by a animal control officer and tested positive for rabies.

- April 4 , A rabid skunk was killed by a Saint Bernard. The dog had been sprayed by the skunk but not scratched or bitten.

- April 12, A raccoon tested positive after it was found mauling a kitten. The kitten was destroyed and the owner killed the raccoon with a baseball bat.

- April 16, A rabid raccoon was shot on a property near Chestnut Grove Road.

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