By Bob Weaver (Part Two)|
Flags are up over the spread of rabies into Calhoun and Wirt Counties
since a fox
head has been certified with raccoon-strain rabies. An official
declaration has yet to
be made. Local woodsman Harold Stutler says he is confident it has
raccoons, five of which he killed recently, none of which were
Rabies has slowly been spreading west and south from county to county
Virginia for several years, the outbreak already hitting more than
half the state.
"The fox looked pretty healthy, but it had saliva dripping from its
mouth," according to
Tim Carpenter of Stutler Ridge. Carpenter shot the fox after being
alerted by well
tender Ron Gherke, after which it became aggressive. "We climbed up on
It came after us and he (Gherke) hit it with a shovel and I shot it
Carpenter said he and Gherke placed the fox in plastic and took it to
Harold Stutler on
Little Creek, who removed its head. The Wirt County Health Department
positive report for rabies.
Rabies is an ancient virus (hydrophobia) capable of infecting
most notably bats, raccoons, foxes and skunks. The West Virginia
outbreak, this time
around, about 60-70% of the cases involve raccoons.
The risk of the virus spreading to dogs and cats is prevented by a
West Virginia law
which requires pets to receive rabies vaccinations. Calhoun Dog Warden
cautioned only 50% of Calhoun's household animals may have been
The exposure is through being bitten or scratched, particularly by a
wild animal that
cannot be captured. Symptoms of rabies includes:
Temperament change, friendly animals become aggressive or normally
animals seem friendly or restless.
Unprovoked attacks, biting or scratching anything that moves.
Changes in the bark of dogs.
A protruding "third" eyelid.
Drooling or appearance of choking.
Tremors, lack of coordination, loss of balance.
Paralysis and respiratory failure.
Staggering or erratic behavior.
Foxes, dogs and possibly skunks with "furious rabies" can run all
everything in their path.
Conservation Officer Tom Fox said hunters and trappers "really need to
precaution." He suggests removal of pet feeding bowls on back porches
and yards to
A DNR spokesperson said a few more "heads of suspicious animals" are
testing. - MORE TO COME in The Hur Herald.