2010-11-11 / Local & State

Rabies Clinic Set For Tuesday

Local vet tangles with rabid raccoon
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

After having a recent run-in with a peculiar-acting raccoon, a local veterinarian has opted to be proactive and will host a special rabies clinic on Tuesday, November 16.

Dr. Brent and Joann Carlson of McConnellsburg, owners and operators of Fulton County Veterinary Hospital located at 163 Reservoir Road, McConnellsburg, will be offering vaccinations between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. next Tuesday. Appointments are not required. The clinic will be a cash-only event, and shots will be given at a cost of $10 per rabies vaccination.

In speaking with the “News,” Joann Carlson stated her family’s rabies scare occurred last Monday afternoon. She was alerted to the raccoon on her premises when she received a telephone call at work from passing motorist and friend Harvey Kneas. Kneas had spotted a raccoon crossing the roadway and onto the Carlson’s property at 3:30 p.m.

When she arrived home almost two hours later, Joann found her husband and one of their dogs in the backyard in close proximity to the raccoon. Dr. Carlson managed to douse the dog with a watering can, sending it scurrying away, but the raccoon managed to take refuge under a nearby porch.

Joann recalled it being a “scary” 45 minutes when they couldn’t find the raccoon and eventually flushed it out from under the porch. Dr. Carlson shot and killed the raccoon, which was sent away for testing. Results came back positive for rabies, “a virus of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) that can affect any mammal.”

In 2009, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture reported various wildlife tested positive for rabies across the state, including 199 raccoons, 54 skunks, 44 bats, 24 foxes, five groundhogs, one coyote and one white-tailed deer.

Domestic animals testing positive statewide for the virus last year were 55 cats, four dogs and one cow. Pennsylvania law requires dogs and cats over the age of 3 months to be vaccinated against rabies.

Signs of rabies are typically grouped into two forms known as “furious” or “paralytic,” also known as dumb. Animals can show signs of one type or another and may even progress from one phase to the next. Signs of the furious form of rabies are aggression, loss of fear, daytime activity by nocturnal animals, difficulty swallowing, restlessness and biting at objects or other animals. Meanwhile, symptoms of the paralytic form include decreased activity, lack of coordination, hind limb weakness, a dropping of its lower jaw and drooling. Cats are known to meow excessively during this phase.

Incubation can occur within two weeks or in extremely rare cases as long as one year. Animals are unable to transmit rabies during the incubation period and there may be time for a vaccination in order to prevent the animal from developing the disease and prevent it from shedding or transmitting the virus, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Residents coming into contact with a wild animal that is believed to be infected should dispose of the animal humanely without damaging the head. While wearing plastic or rubber gloves, the head should be placed in a sealed container and refrigerated with ice. Do not use dry ice, and do not freeze it. Pennsylvania Game Commission representatives from the Southcentral Regional Office should be contacted immediately by calling 814-643-1831.

Veterinarians can also provide information about delivering suspected animals to a qualified laboratory for testing. Testing is free of charge from the State Veterinary Laboratory in Harrisburg at 717-787-8808.

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