Rabies reports from Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina (2), Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Connecticut 09/02/10 theday.com:  by Jenna Cho – East Lyme – A bat found in the area of South Trail has tested positive for rabies, a deadly disease that lives in the saliva and brain tissue of infected animals, Ledge Light Health District reported this afternoon.

Florida 09/01/10 abc-7.com: Charlotte County issued a rabies warning Wednesday after a pit bull attacked and killed a rabid raccoon. The attack happened north of Bermont Road and just west of Swaying Palm Drive.  John Palmer and his dog Chance had an unfortunate run-in with a raccoon on their Punta Gorda farm.  “I went and got a piece of PVC pipe because I was going to whack it. Chance come out of nowhere and he just jumped on that thing, flipped it in the air and shook it and broke its back,” said Palmer.  Animal Control says the raccoon tested positive for rabies.

Idaho 09/04/10 deseretnews.com: Ketchum — Three more people in the Wood River Valley were getting rabies vaccines after encounters with aggressive bats, public health officials said.  One person who was bitten and two more who may have been bitten were being vaccinated as a precaution, the Idaho Mountain Express reported Friday.  The encounters occurred in Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue in central Idaho.  “Most of the rabies we see in Idaho is from bats,” said South Central Public Health District epidemiologist Mary Jensen. “When they have rabies, bats will not act normally. They will be out in the daytime, rather than night or dusk. They may roll around on the ground.”  A bat that attacked a fisherman northwest of Hailey in July tested positive for rabies. It was the second confirmed case of rabies in the state this year, and the first in south-central Idaho.  In the most recent encounters, none of the bats were captured for testing.  “Bats’ teeth are so small and so fine people don’t always know whether or not they have been bitten,” Jensen said. “It’s important to get checked out by a doctor if you have had direct contact with a bat.”

Illinois 09/02/10 videtteonline.com: by Cassie Burica – According to the county health department report released Thursday Aug. 26, eight rabid bats have been confirmed in McLean County, making the number of rabid bats higher than it has been in the past 20 years.  Melaney Arnold, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Public Health, explained there are currently 88 reported cases of rabies-infected bats throughout the state of Illinois.   “There is more bat activity around late summer; we are seeing more specimens being tested,” Arnold said.  Despite the number of bats infected with rabies, Laura Vogel, professor of biological sciences, said that most human exposures to rabies have been the result of domestic animal bites. 

Maryland 09/02/10 fredericknewspost.com: Hagerstown – Health officials say one of three cats that attacked people over the weekend had rabies.  The Washington County Health Department said Tuesday that two people are undergoing post-exposure rabies treatment. Other people are being evaluated.   Health officials are visiting the College Road area, where the attacks occurred, to notify households of the situation.

Nebraska 09/03/10 waunetanebraska.com: by Russ Pankonin – Fair livestock exhibitors and superintendents got a little unnerved early last week when it was learned a sheep that was intended to be shown at the fair had contracted rabies.  While the rabid sheep had been put down before the fair, four pen-mates had already been brought into the livestock barns.  As soon as the owners found out the market lamb tested positive for rabies, the other four sheep were removed from the grounds.  Tests later showed that all four animals brought to the fair tested negative for rabies.

The sheep were 4-H and FFA projects of the three older children of Ryan and Tonya Johnson of rural Imperial.  Mrs. Johnson said her daughter noticed the affected lamb wasn’t eating well during the week before the fair.  They tried some treatments but the animal didn’t respond. Mrs. Johnson said the animal started becoming aggressive in the pen and with the other pen-mates.  This behavior, along with the eating behavior of the sheep, prompted them to call local veterinarian, Dr. Dave Johnsen Sunday night, Aug. 15.  Together, they determined there was something wrong with the animal and decided not to take it to the fair.

The sheep was put down that evening and Johnsen decided to send the sheep’s brain to the lab at Kansas State, where rabies testing is done.  Surprisingly, the test came back positive on Tuesday, Aug. 17.  Johnsen realized something wasn’t right with the sheep but said he never really suspected rabies.  He could only speculate on how the sheep contracted rabies.  He said the Johnsons told him they had shot a strange acting skunk about four to six weeks prior.  Dr. Johnsen said it’s possible the skunk could have bitten the sheep but the real cause will likely never be known.

North Carolina 09/03/10 starnewsonline.com: by Matt Tomsic – A New Hanover County woman was bitten by a fox Wednesday before officials tested the fox and determined it had rabies.  “The woman on Canterbury Road was getting into her car when the fox attacked her, according to a press release from New Hanover County spokesman Mark Boyer.”

North Carolina 08/30/10 go.com: A rabies alert is in effect for people who live in a north Raleigh neighborhood.  Health officials are warning everyone who lives or has recently visited the vicinity of Victory Church Road near the Boulder Creek Subdivision. They say a fox tested positive for rabies and the animal interacted with four people including an animal control officer. All of the people are now being tested.

Pennsylvania 09/2/10 melodika.net: The annual oral rabies vaccination program is underway in 12 western Pennsylvania counties, Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding said today.  The program, which helps control rabies in wild animals, covers all or parts of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Crawford, Erie, Greene, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango, Washington and Westmoreland counties.  Since Aug. 20, trained professionals have been spreading bait packs by hand in densely populated areas of western Pennsylvania. Hand-baiting will continue through Sept. 24. Through Sept. 5, low-flying aircraft will drop bait in sparsely populated areas.  Oral rabies vaccination baits are coated with a fishmeal attractant and may be packaged in off-white, one-inch square cubes or two-inch plastic sachets. Images of the baits can be viewed at www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/4578217863/.  Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the baits, but are asked not to disturb them if discovered. This vaccine has been shown to be safe in more than 60 different species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats.

Texas 09/02/10 go.com: A dead bat in Friendswood has tested positive for rabies.  A resident in the Forest of Friendswood subdivision discovered the bat next to a dog bowl last week.  A preliminary report by the state health department indicates the bat was rabid. It’s unknown whether the bat came in contact with the dog. The pet received a rabies shot and will be isolated at home as a precaution.

Virginia 09/07/10 dailypress.com: by Virginia Chufo – YORK — A raccoon found in the vicinity of Quantico Loop in York County has tested positive for rabies, the Peninsula Health District announced.  Anyone who may have been bitten or scratched by the animal or whose pet has come in contact with the animal is asked to contact the health department at 594-7340. After hours, contact local animal control at 890-3601.

West Virginia 09/03/10 mountainmessenger.com: by Peggy MacKenzie – This month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Wildlife Services will be distributing oral rabies vaccine (ORV) baits in Greenbrier County. The USDA has chosen the county as the testing ground for a new oral vaccine strain as Greenbrier County has had one of the state’s highest rates of rabies cases. The new oral vaccine is reportedly more attractive to other terrestrial mammals and will induce immunity among more animals. At this time, the raccoon rabies variant is found only in the Eastern United States. Every year millions of raccoon baits, laced with the rabies vaccine are dropped from airplanes over the eastern US from Maine to Alabama. Baits were first dropped in West Virginia in 2001, and since 2006 several counties have been declared raccoon rabies-free. The bait-drop zone moves steadily eastward each year along a north to south front to establish an immune barrier to halt the westward spread of raccoon strain rabies. The densely forested habitats at high elevations of the Appalachian Mountains limit raccoon movements and help slow the spread of raccoon rabies virus west of the is mountain range.

The baits are packaged in two forms. One is block-like, brown in color, and resembles a fig cookie. The vaccine is held in a packet within the bait. The second type looks like a ketchup package with a brown-colored fish meal coating. The vaccine is a red to purple liquid. Some baits also contain tetracycline hydrochloride, a long-term calciphillic biomarker used to assess bait acceptance by target and non-target species. Each bait contains approximately two milliliters of the rabies vaccine.

The baits are distasteful; it is not likely that they would be consumed if they were picked up by a person. However, the possibility exists of potential exposure primarily through handling a punctured vaccine sachet (package). There is a single reported case of vaccinia infection in an individual who attempted to take the bait from a dog and was bitten in the process. Therefore, people are advised not to take baits away from pets and to avoid contact with the baits. If a child eats or has contact with bait, be aware that it is not possible to get rabies from the vaccine. But in the unlikely event that a child bites the bait or the actual vaccine packet, contact the West Virginia Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 1-800-423-1271.  The vaccines are not harmful to pets or livestock if consumed. However, stomach indigestion has been reported in pets that have consumed numerous baits. This vaccination should not be used for dogs and cats.

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