The Marshall County Health Department is warning people to avoid contact with wild animals after a raccoon in Marshall County tested positive for rabies.


The positive test results for rabies were reported to the health department by the West Virginia Office of Laboratory Services.  This is the first laboratory confirmed animal rabies case in Marshall County for 2018.


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


County residents should be wary of animals acting strangely or agitated.  Rabid wild animals may also display unusual behavior; for example, an animal that is usually only seen at night may be seen wandering in the daytime.


Owners should contact their veterinarian and report the bite to local animal control authorities immediately if they suspect that their pets have come into contact with a wild animal.  Owners should always keep their pet’s vaccinations up to date, but even pets who are current with their rabies vaccinations may need immediate booster shots.


Rabies is common in wildlife in North America.  It is a disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system.  The virus is secreted in saliva and is usually transmitted by a bite from an infected animal.  Less commonly, rabies can be transmitted when saliva from a rabid animal comes in contact with an open cut on the skin or the eyes, nose, or mouth of a person or animal.


To help control the spread of rabies have your veterinarian vaccinate your pets and select horses and livestock.  Reduce the possibility of exposure to rabies by not letting your pets roam free.  Do not ground feed wild animals, especially in residential areas.  Don’t leave exposed garbage or pet food outside, as it may attract wild or stray animals.  Wild animals should never be kept as pets.  Observe all wild animals from a distance and teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals-even if they appear friendly.  If you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to local animal control authorities.


For more information, contact the Marshall County Health Department at 304-845-7840.