Nine confirmed cases of rabies in animals in March

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Raccoon

HARRISBURG, Pa. The state agricultural department has confirmed nine cases of rabies in animals in Adams, Cumberland, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties in the month of March. No animals were submitted from Dauphin County.

Pennsylvania law requires all dogs and non-feral cats three months of age and older to be vaccinated against rabies. Booster vaccinations must be administered periodically to maintain lifelong immunity. Failure to comply with the law may result in a fine of up to $300.

Exposure to the rabies virus can occur in multiple ways, primarily: a direct bite from a contagious rabid mammal, a scratch from a rabid mammal that breaks the skin, saliva or neural tissue from a contagious rabid animal contacting an open wound or break in the skin, or saliva or neural tissue from a contagious rabid animal contacting mucus membranes such as in the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Rabies in humans is a preventable disease if exposure is recognized and treatment is begun in a timely manner. Immediately washing the bite or scratch with soap and water can greatly reduce the risk of rabies.

Pets and other domestic animals exposed to rabid animals will be quarantined. Quarantine length depends on the rabies vaccination status of the exposed domestic animal. If you have other pets or livestock, consult your veterinarian about vaccinating those animals.

Confirmed cases of rabid animals in March for the mid-state (date confirmed positive, county of origin, species, human exposure status):

  • 3/18 – Lancaster County, raccoon, human exposure
  • 3/18 – Lebanon County, raccoon, no human exposure
  • 3/21 – Cumberland County, cat, human exposure
  • 3/21 – Cumberland County, fox, human exposure
  • 3/21 – York County, raccoon, no human exposure
  • 3/22 – Lancaster County, raccoon, no human exposure
  • 3/25 – Lancaster County, bat, no human exposure
  • 3/28 – Lancaster County, raccoon, no human exposure
  • 3/30 – Adams County, cat, no human exposure

People should avoid contact with wild animals and take precautions to limit contact of their domestic animals with wild animals, and in particular avoid wild animals acting abnormally – including feral cats. Symptoms include unusual aggression, daytime activity by nocturnal species, lethargy, drooling and paralysis. Not all animals show every sign. Most neurological or behavioral abnormalities could potentially be rabies.

If you encounter an animal that you suspect may have rabies, contact your local law enforcement or local Pennsylvania Game Commission office. Your regional Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture office can assist in safely preparing and submitting the animal for rabies testing. If you may have been exposed to the rabies virus, seek medical attention.

For more information on rabies, visit www.agriculture.pa.gov and search “rabies.”