|By Bob Weaver|
West Virginia's rabies outbreak may be reaching Calhoun and Wirt
Counties, with a
validated rabid fox killed on Little Creek. Pat Fulmer, sanitarian for
the Wirt County
Health Department said "There is a positive result on a gray fox head"
County. The head contained "raccoon-strain" rabies.
The fox was pistol shot by Tim Carpenter of Stutler Ridge near a well
reported the animal was acting strangely.
Cliff Brown, wildlife specialist with the DNR at French Creek, told
The Herald the
"raccoon strain" rabies has been moving south and west in West
Virginia for several
years, identified first in the eastern panhandle during the 1970's. "I
didn't expect it to
catch Wirt and Calhoun this quickly," he said.
Brown said "Don't panic, but beware. Raccoons are the primary
really need to protect their pets (by getting them vaccinated), thus
"We will be looking for some further validation of rabies in the
Brown said. There is a new prevention program that vaccinates wild
the problem becomes severe. The vaccine is placed in food pellets and
dropped in the
woods. "It is a way of keeping ahead of the problem."
Conservation Officer Tom Fox said, hunters and trappers should begin
to take extra
precautions, particularly in handling the kills.
Harold Stutler of Little Creek, well-known outdoors man, hunter,
trapper, believes rabies has spread to the local raccoon population.
He told The
Herald he had killed five raccoons recently that presented rabies-like
has found at least twenty other dead raccoons. "There is no doubt in
my mind it is in
the coons," he said.
Calhoun Sheriff Allen Parsons said "I hope people will not overreact
to the problem."
Parsons said he will be requesting an expansion of the vaccination
program for cats
Dog Warden Ron Gordon said local veterinarian Dr. Joe Cain has
vaccination program in the county for many years, offering the shots
at half-price. "I
think about half of the pets in the county have received the vaccine,"
said Gordon. "It
could become a real problem."
Calhoun has had several rabies outbreaks over the years. The best
was in the 1960's when many people were bitten by foxes. "Many had to
shots," said Stutler. "They put a bounty on foxes at $3 each. I
remembering killing 56
The original treatment for rabies was risky and difficult, injecting
directly into the stomach. Today's treatment, although very expensive,
reactions and is very effective. "Prevention is the biggest cure,"
"We will stay on top of the problem in Calhoun," said Sheriff Allen
TOMORROW: Important need to know information about raccoon-strain
what you can do to help with the problem.