Raccoons tested positive for rabies

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Franklin Animal Control Officer Maria Vargo of the city police department confirmed on Tuesday morning the presence of rabid raccoons found in the city. The first was on Clay Street on March 14, and the second on Vernon Street on April 18.

“That’s too many if you ask me,” said Vargo, who added that she had seen both. Another Franklin police officer had to shoot the first. The second one she euthanized herself using a silenced .22.

The critters were then taken to the Southampton County Health Department in Courtland, where they were beheaded and their brains examined to confirm the presence of rabies.

The raccoons were not the only animals affected. There were also two dogs in each situation.

The first pair were not up to date on their rabies shots, so a four-month quarantine was required, with the canines to be kept in a fenced area that would be surrounded by another fence. But, Vargo said, the owners chose not to have the animals endure such isolation, so they were euthanized.

The second pair of dogs was current with the vaccination, and those canines got only 45 days quarantine at home and booster shots, costing about $500.

Rabies is spread through saliva, she said, so if that gets into a cut or any other opening, the disease has found a way to spread. The first step to preventing such encounters is keeping one’s distance.

Raccoons, bats and skunks are the three critters with the highest rate of infection.

“Avoid rabid animals at all costs,” Vargo advised. “Call me (562-8605) or the police in whichever locality you live as soon as possible.”

Should you be scratched or bitten by a wild animal, and that critter cannot be captured for testing, then rabies shots will be needed. Those, she added, can be quite expensive, around $1,500 to $2,000.

Vargo stressed the severity of the disease: it can be fatal.

For people with pets, keep the vaccinations up to date. The first shot is generally good for one year, and the second for about three years.