2011-07-21 / Front Page

Second Rabies Case Reported This Month

Dog could be quarantined after fight with fox
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz
STAFF WRITER

For the second time this month, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has confirmed a case of rabies here in Fulton County.

Wildlife Conservation Officer Kevin Mountz with the Pennsylvania Game Commission received notice Friday from the Department of Agriculture that a fox involved in a fight with a dog just outside McConnellsburg Borough was infected with the rabies virus.

According to the Fulton County WCO, a puggle, a special cross-breed between a beagle and pug, got into a “tangle” with a fox in the backyard of a Cooper Lane home during the evening hours on Wednesday, July 13. Mountz said the dog was left outside to go to the bathroom, while several other dogs in a nearby pen were barking excitedly.

“The dog beelined for the fox, chased it under a porch of the Todd Township residence and rumbled with the fox,” stated Mountz. “The dog came back out, and the family grabbed some long sticks in an attempt to shoo the fox away from the porch.”

Meanwhile, the fox latched onto a stick and was pulled into the open where it was killed by the family. The fox was double bagged and placed on ice before being sent to the state Veterinary Laboratory in Harrisburg for testing.

The family was expected to meet with representatives from the Department of Agriculture on Tuesday to review recommendations in the case. The family’s dogs are all vaccinated against rabies, but it could be suggested they undergo an additional booster shot.

In addition, as a precautionary measure, the Department of Agriculture typically recommends a quarantine of approximately 90 days for domesticated animals that come into contact with an infected rabid animal. A quarantine would isolate the affected animal from other animals as well as people.

Pennsylvania law mandates all dogs and nonferal cats over the age of three months must be vaccinated for rabies. Booster vaccinations must also be received periodically to maintain lifelong immunity.

Early signs of rabies in animals include changes in personality ranging from stuporous to unusually aggressive. Paralysis of the throat muscles is also a common sign of rabies, which causes an excess of saliva and an inability to swallow.

Mountz stated rabid animals tend to be “very aggressive.”

“It’s unusual to see furbearers outside during the day, so that should be a red flag for anyone to keep their distance. An exception to that rule would be if there has been an extreme change in a weather front, such as a severe rainstorm during the day that may bring out furbearers during daylight hours,” Mountz said.

“If a furbearer is seen in the area and appears to be aggressive or sickly, protection is removed in such a situation, and the animal can be euthanized,” he added.

Mountz suggested contacting Game Commission representatives from the Southcentral Regional Office at 814-643-1831 for further advice or to pick up a suspected rabid animal. Residents are reminded the animal should be killed 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.

Veterinarians can also explain procedures to have an animal delivered to a qualified laboratory for testing. Testing is free of charge from the state Veterinary Laboratory at 717-787-8808.

This latest incident in Fulton County increases the number of recorded cases of rabies here to three. A raccoon previously tested positive for rabies between January 1 and May 31, and a fox was confirmed as being positive for rabies on July 7. Last year, Fulton County had a total of three confirmed cases of rabies, which included two raccoons and one skunk.

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