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Creature Care: Rabies, Dangerous & Deadly

by Dr. John Weiner - September 13, 2022

Last month I saw a viral video on the internet where a fox was attacking a woman getting out of her car.

Earlier this summer a skunk was in the fields around my house, two days in a row. Yes, it was the same skunk both times, with very distinctive color markings. Then on the third day while on a walk this skunk started to chase after me, the following day he was found dead in the road nearby. Only last week news was made in Wellsboro as a fox was terrorizing people in Wellsboro until it was finally stopped.

These are just three occurrences in a short period of time where wild animals were acting in rather unusual ways. Foxes don’t attack people, they run away from us. Skunks don’t chase people — they turn their rear ends to us and spray nasty skunk scent at us.

Rabies is the most likely reason for all of these incidents. In Pennsylvania the virus that causes this very deadly disease is widespread in the wildlife population. Raccoons are the most common animal in Pennsylvania to test positive for this disease, followed by foxes, skunks, coyotes, bats, and even the occasional woodchuck.

There is nothing new about rabies and it’s spread. Every year in the United States people still die from rabies after being bitten by a rabid dog, cat or wild animal like the fox in Wellsboro. The virus is and has always been deadly nearly 100% of the time. Vaccines are very effective, safe and essential to protecting our domestic animals especially dogs, cats, horses, sheep, goats and even cattle.

Protecting humans requires an understanding of the virus and how it is transmitted. First off a rabid animal only passes the virus in its saliva within the last few days of the infection-just before death from the disease. Secondly a bite from a rabid animal can take weeks or months to make the bitten individual sick to the point of death.

Please take the danger of this virus seriously. Vaccinate your domestic animals, namely dogs, cats and horses. (Consult your veterinarian for other animals, especially food producing livestock) If you or someone you know is bitten by a dog or cat, report these bites to the local health official and seek medical attention immediately. If you see a wild animal acting in an unusual manner, warn or tell someone like a local game warden or law enforcement official. The sample needed to test for rabies is the brain so only dead animals can be tested.

For more information visit the links below:http://padls.agriculture.pa.gov/InnerPages/Rabies.html
https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/
https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4951479

Credits:

Videography: Andrew Moore
Video Editing: Andrew Moore
Writing: Dr. John Weiner
Anchor: Sara Vogt

Produced by Vogt Media
Home Page Sponsors: Pleasant Valley Veterinary Care, Matthews Motor Company

 
 
 
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