<p>Michele Spring Reporting:

(Friday, August 03, 2018) Tuscarawas County, Ohio – The Tuscarawas County Health Department was notified on Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Agriculture that a raccoon had tested positive for (RRV) Raccoon Rabies Variant.

This is the first confirmed case of raccoon rabies variant reported in Tuscarawas County to date. Tuscarawas County Health Commissioner Katie Seward said this case signifies an immediate and potential threat of raccoon rabies to new areas of eastern and central Ohio.

“What this is telling us is that this RRV or this variant of rabies is coming further south and so that is a breach in the barrier. It’s something that we had essentially eradicated for many, many years and so it becomes a concern at this point.”

Seward added that this time last year something like this was found in Stark County near the Tuscarawas County line, however, this raccoon, in particular, was found deceased in Warren Township near Echo Lake Road.

“We got a call in early July from a resident regarding a raccoon. She was concerned because of an interaction with a family pet and that raccoon seemed to be displaying some behavior. And so anytime that happens we certainly send it off for testing.”

Seward noted that if established, this strain could lead to a dramatic increase in rabies exposure to people and pets.

“Rabies is always fatal. It is a very dangerous disease. If you see a raccoon or any type of wildlife that is displaying kind of unusual symptoms. So, acting more aggressive, drooling, kind of staggering around, pacing, looking agitated – those are all unusual behavior that we would consider suspect.”

The Health Department says they will continue working with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to perform surveillance and sample collections near the areas where the rabid raccoon was found. To protect residents, they will be also be partnering with the Ohio Department of Health, the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and Wildlife Service to determine the proper action required.

A date and location have yet to be determined for a low-cost rabies vaccine clinic for dogs and cats.

If you have further questions or concerns about the positive raccoon, feel free to contact the Tuscarawas County Health Department at 330-343-5555.

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