by KATE EVANS
The Morgan County Health Department issued a rabies alert for the Fish Hatchery Road area in Berkeley Springs in the early evening on Friday, May 29. The Health Department put the rabies alert on their Facebook page and their post was also shared by Morgan County Animal Control.
Health Department officials said the West Virginia Office of Laboratory Services notified them of a positive rabies test result for a raccoon. The raccoon was euthanized because of its aggressive nature and was sent to the state lab by the Health Department.
At press time, the Health Department hadn’t received any calls yet from the Fish Hatchery Road area about the rabies alert.
A man’s daughter was reportedly bit by the raccoon and he suffered scratches and scrapes while trying to defend her from the animal. Both are receiving rabies shots, said a neighbor. Health officials couldn’t be reached for details about the case.
The Health Department issued the alert to notify residents in the area in case they or their pets may have been exposed to the raccoon. Exposure to rabies can occur from a bite, if a scratch from an infected animal breaks the skin or if its infected saliva comes into contact with open cuts, abrasions or wounds or with mucus membranes such as the mouth, eyes or nose.
There is post-exposure treatment for individuals if an animal is suspected of being rabid. Any person who has been bitten by or exposed to a potentially rabid animal should see a physician immediately.
If people think they or their animals may have come into contact with a suspicious raccoon, they should call the Morgan County Health Department at 304-258-1513 or Morgan County Animal Control at 304-258-6363.
It’s the law that cats and dogs must be vaccinated against rabies by the age of six months.
The administered rabies vaccine should be capable of providing immunity for three years, with a booster shot given one year after the initial vaccination and every third year afterwards.