Rabies cases in Mahoning Co. lead to increased surveillance, testing in Carroll County

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The Carroll County General Health District (CCGHD) is asking county residents to assist with an increase in rabies surveillance.
CCGHD was notified by the Ohio Department of Health April 27 that three raccoons and one cat were found to have rabies in Mahoning County, by testing positive for raccoon rabies variant (RRV).
The raccoon rabies variant is found in raccoons but can also be passed to humans and other mammals. As a result of the identified cases of rabies, one person was exposed to rabies and received treatment.
The health district is looking to increase testing to look for the presence of raccoon strain rabies in Carroll County. The department is asking residents to call the office at 330-627-4866 extension 1562 if they find a recently dead raccoon, skunk, or fox so district personnel can retrieve the animal and send it to the United States Department of Agriculture – Wildlife Services for rabies testing.
Some symptoms of rabies in animals include poor coordination, weakness, excessive salivation, abnormal behavior, aggression and self-mutilation. However, the only way to confirm an animal has rabies is through laboratory testing of the animal’s brain, so the animal must be dead for testing to be conducted.
Anyone bitten or scratched by a raccoon, bat, fox, or skunk should wash the wounds immediately.
One of the most effective ways to decrease the chance for infection is to wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. The person should also contact their doctor and the CCGHD as soon as possible if exposed.
The doctor may recommend a series of shots commonly known as rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
“Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal during a bite or scratch,” says Kelly Morris, health commissioner.
“Rabies is a fatal disease if contracted. The rabies virus travels through the nerves until it eventually gets to the brain. It is virtually undetectable by symptoms while in the nervous system. Once it infects the brain and symptoms occur, it is too late for treatment. This is why rabies vaccination for pets is so important to human health and why immediate treatment following an exposure with a wild animal can save lives.”
If a pet fought with any of the wild animals listed above, call a veterinarian and the CCGHD to report the incident; the animal may need to get a rabies vaccine and be quarantined for a length of time.
Prevention is key as rabies is rare in properly vaccinated animals. Please refer to a veterinarian for rabies vaccine requirements for your pet, dogs, cats and ferrets.
For information about rabies testing or if a newly deceased raccoon, skunk or fox is found, please call the health district at 330-627-4866 ext. 1562.

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