Rabid raccoon found in Goshen community

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 7, 2000

Features Editor

A rabid raccoon attacked two dogs in the Goshen community last week and exposed them to the deadly disease.

Dr. Doug Hawkins, Troy veterinarian, said the raccoon fought with the two dogs, but didn’t make it. The animal’s head was sent off for testing and the test came back positive for rabies.

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"Any time you have a rabid animal, there is the potential for others," Hawkins said. "Generally speaking, it will take an animal with rabies 10 days to die. During that time, the animal will become very aggressive and will fight with other animals it comes in contact with, exposing them to the disease."

During that time, other animals could contract the disease and it could spread rather rapidly.

"State law requires

that animals be treated annually for rabies," Hawkins said. "This is for protection between people and wildlife. That is why it is so important to keep the protection current. A rabid animal will usually attack another animal before it attacks a person. Raccoons and foxes are the primary carriers of rabies in our area."

Hawkins said a visible sign of rabies is foaming at the mouth.

"Rabid animals suffer form hydrophobia – that’s fear of water," he said. "A rabid animal will be thirsty, but won’t be able to drink because of paralysis of the throat. That’s why you’ll see them foaming at the mouth."

If a person comes in contact with a dead animal they suspect to be rabid, it is important not to handle the animal without wearing gloves.

"Rabies can be transmitted through lesions in the skin and you have to be very careful about that," Hawkins said. "The best way to handle a dead animal that is suspected of having rabies, is to pick it up by the tail, put it in a plastic bag and take it to a veterinarian.

If it’s going to be a while before you can get it there, pour a bag of ice in there on it. "

Summer is a prime time for rabies and Hawkins suggests anyone, who has a dog or cat that is older than three months and has not bee vaccinated, to do so as soon as possible.