Several Pennsylvania Counties Under Threat Of Rabies

Monroe County and several surrounding counties have seen reported cases of rabies. All documented cases are according to a contagion map by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (DOA). The infected animal in Monroe County is foxes. 

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) the following counties and animals are affected:

  • Adams: Cats, Skunks, Raccoons
  • Allegheny: Racoons
  • Berks: Raccoons, Bats
  • Blair: Cattle
  • Carbon: Raccoons
  • Cambria: Foxes
  • Centre: Raccoons, Skunks
  • Chester: Raccoons
  • Clearfield: Raccoons 
  • Cumberland: Cattle, Raccoons
  • Fayette: Raccoons
  • Fulton: Skunks
  • Huntingdon: Raccoons
  • Lebanon: Raccoons
  • Lehigh: Cats, Skunks
  • Lycoming: Raccoons
  • Mercer: Bats
  • Monroe: Foxes
  • Perry: Cats, Raccoons
  • Pike: Cats
  • Somerset: Raccoons
  • Tioga: Raccoons
  • Westmoreland: Raccoons

 Rabies is a deadly virus spread to people from the saliva of infected animals, according to the Mayo Clinic. The rabies virus usually is transmitted through a bite. Animals most likely to transmit rabies in the United States include bats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and skunks.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (DOA), Rabies virus signs have two forms, furious and paralytic. An animal may show signs of only one type, progress from one to the other, or show no symptoms other than death.

Not all animals, including humans, show every symptom. Many neurological or behavioral abnormalities could signify rabies infection. 


Symptoms of Furious Rabies, according to Pennsylvania DOA, include:  

  • Aggression
  • Loss of fear
  • Daytime activity by a nocturnal species
  • Attraction to noise and human activity
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Dilated pupils
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Biting at objects or other animals
  • May or may not drool

Symptoms of Paralytic Rabies, according to Pennsylvania DOA, include:

  • Decreased activity
  • Poor coordination
  • Hind limb weakness
  • Acting “dull”
  • Cats may meow excessively

As the disease gets progressively worse, symptoms include:

  • Drooling
  • Being unable to swallow
  • Paralysis
  • Death

There is an incubation period, according to Pennsylvania DOA, where the infected animal is not contagious and has no changes in behavior or neurology; vaccination is plausible during this stage to prevent the disease from progressing and transmitting the rabies virus. 

Rabies is preventable in humans if exposure is recognized and the infected person becomes treated immediately. These are the ways you can contract the virus, according to Pennsylvania DOA:

  • A direct bite from a contagious rabid mammal.
  • A scratch from a rabid mammal that breaks the skin.
  • Saliva or neural tissue from infected rabid animal contact an open wound or breaks in the skin.
  • Saliva or neural tissue exposure from rabid animals. By contacting mucus membranes such as the eyes, nose, or mouth.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania law states that all animal bites need reporting by the medical professional to the Pennsylvania DOH. Animals thought to have rabies need laboratory testing and euthanized if confirmed. 

The medical professionals should notify the DOH and consult if the exposed individual needs to receive rabies treatment, according to DOH. If you are bitten or scratched, immediately wash with soap and water. Cleaning the wound reduces the risk of rabies drastically. 

Rabies can survive on inanimate objects as long as the saliva is present and wet. Sunlight is known to kill the virus, with freezing and moisture keeping the virus alive. The virus can survive on these objects. The Center For Disease Control (CDC) never reported a case where someone got infected in this way. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), bats are the number one offender in human rabies cases in the United States. Prevention Now and the CDC recommend that every bat discovered inside a building or home gets tested. 

To have animals submitted for Rabies Testing.

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