By Ammie Ruddle
Since the beginning of 2022, Pendleton County residents have reported two cases of rabies, according to the Pendleton County Health Department. Brooke Hott, registered sanitarian with the health department said, “These are the first cases the county has seen since 2019, when four cases of rabies were reported in the county.”
Hott offered preventative measures for residents.
“Start with getting your pets vaccinated for rabies, so all cats and dogs, beginning at three months old,” she said. “Also, the rabies vaccine can be purchased by livestock owners.” “Absolutely do not touch stray animals, because you may not know if they have been infected with rabies,” she added.
Rabies can be passed from mammal to mammal, so it can be transmitted from a dog to a person, if bitten or exposed to saliva.
“If you think your pet has been exposed, then take your pet to the vet, where your animal will be monitored for 10 days,” Hott said. “If you think you may have been exposed to rabies, immediately see a doctor to receive treatment.”
Veterinarians and doctors’ offices are required to report cases of people and animals who are exposed to the health department, according to Hott. The health department will then contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s location in Morgantown, which will investigate further.
“A sign of rabies is typically a reverse in personality”, said Hott. “Normal temperament will become aggressive, and vice versa. Aggressive temperament will become calm. Another symptom is that the animal will not be able to eat or drink. That is where the foaming comes from.”
Although cases are rare, people should remain vigilant, health officials say. Watch for signs and symptoms of rabies, and report possible exposure to either a veterinarian or the health department.