08/25/13 — County reports 2 rabies cases

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County reports 2 rabies cases

By Staff Reports
Published in News on August 25, 2013 1:50 AM

A Wayne County man is undergoing rabies shots after a rabid kitten, which he found as a stray several weeks ago, bit him on the hand.

Another local resident had to have his three pet dogs euthanized after they fought and killed what turned out to be a rabid raccoon.

Both are sad reminders of the importance of having pets vaccinated against the disease, said Vicki Falconer, director of the Wayne County Animal Adoption and Education Center.

Mrs. Falconer said the man found the kitten and decided to take it home.

"Six weeks later the kitten became sick and bit him," she said. "By the time the kitten was brought to us, it was so sick we had to euthanize it."

The kitten tested positive for rabies.

It shows that people should exercise caution about picking up stray animals, Mrs. Falconer said.

"I know it's tempting," she said. "They are cute, but you don't know what diseases they could be carrying. In this case, the man did remember a raccoon being in the area where he rescued the kitten. The man is now getting rabies shots, which are very painful."

The other man's three dogs had been spayed, but weren't kept current on their shots.

He thought because he lived in the county, away from other animals, that his dogs were safe, Mrs. Falconer said.

"It doesn't matter where you live," she said. "There is always a certain amount of rabies present in wildlife, so you need to protect the animal and yourselves."

The dogs got into a fight with, and killed, a raccoon.

Animal Adoption and Education Center officers picked up the dead animal. As is protocol, the raccoon was sent to the state lab and tested for rabies.

When the test came back positive, the owner of the dogs had two choices.

"He could pay to have each of the dogs quarantined for six months at a local veterinarian's office, or he could have them euthanized," Mrs. Falconer said. "He couldn't afford the quarantine fee, so he had the dogs euthanized."

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the body's central nervous system. It is almost always fatal in animals, and can be just as deadly in humans if left untreated.

The virus is spread through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite, scratch or existing open wound.

Raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes are the most common carriers of the disease, but feral cat colonies can also be vulnerable.

"A rabies vaccine should top your list of must-haves -- even before you pick out that fancy collar," she said " Both dogs and cats should be vaccinated, even if they are 'indoor only' animals, or never leave your back yard."

The Animal Adoption and Education Center usually sponsors several rabies clinics each year. The next clinic will be at the "Bark in the Borough Dog Walk" at Waynesborough Park on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

"People can bring their pets and get a one-year rabies vaccination for $10," Mrs. Falconer said.