Rabies Case Reported by Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department

WHEELING,WV — The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department is announcing that a wild raccoon has tested positive for rabies. The raccoon was found in the Elm Terrace area of Wheeling, along Fernwood Ave on January 4, 2016

The raccoon died on January 4, 2016 and tested positive forrabies on January 6, 2016.This is the first laboratory confirmed animal rabies case in Ohio County for 2016.

The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department and other county health departments in West Virginia,along with the United States Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Servicesregularly test animals for rabies throughout the year.

The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department is warning residents of Ohio County to be wary of animals acting strangely or aggressively.The health department also reminds residents to keep their pet’s vaccinations up to date.

Rabies is avirus capable of infecting warm-blooded animals. Rabies mainly affects the brain.The disease is common in wildlifein North America- notably in bats, skunks,raccoons and foxes. There have not been any naturally occurring cases identified in birds and it is extremely rare in rodents. The disease is usuallyspread by the bite or scratch of an infected animal. The virus is transmittedthrough the saliva. Rabies is a virus that if left untreated can be fatal.

Most exposures occur because people don’t consider the risk of rabies. Exposures occur through contact with wildlife or with domestic animals exposed to rabidwildlife. Therefore, avoid raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats and stray orunfamiliar dogs and cats. In addition, wild species, including wild/domestic crossbreeds should not be kept as pets.

The health department urges residents not to ground feed wild animals, especially inresidential areas.Residents should alsocontrol and secure residential garbage waste in and around homes andbusinesses.

For more information contact the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department at 304.234.3682or visit our website at www.ohiocountyhealth.com.