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Second case of rabies reported in Quiet Dell

by Troy Graham


(September 11) For the second time this year a rabies case has been reported in the Quiet Dell area of Harrison County.

And, for the second time this year, a local man has been infected with the potentially fatal disease and will have to undergo treatment.

Ryan Myers, of Circle Drive, was infected this spring when one of his dogs killed a rabid raccoon. Later, another one his seven dogs bit him and he had to take months worth of shots, said his wife, April.

Now Myers will have to undergo another round of shots after a second outbreak of the disease struck his neighborhood this week. This time a rabid cat came to his home and got into a bowl of dog food on the family's porch, said April Myers. The cat then attacked another stray cat. Ryan Myers was scratched by the rabid cat as he tried to separate the two animals, April said.

The black cat was killed and sent to the state hygienic laboratory on Tuesday for testing. Results returned Wednesday showed the animal had rabies, said Rick Gerrard, the county's animal control officer.

"He thought he was covered because he had it before," April Myers said of her husband. "He's pretty sore. He got six shots last night."

A neighbor later told the family that their dog was playing with the rabid animal. The dog was also killed and sent to Charleston, Gerrard said. Test results show the dog was not infected, Myers said.

The miniature collie was the only family dog that was not killed after the last rabies outbreak, Myers said.

Two other cats were also caught this week and sent to Charleston. Traps have been set under the Myers' mobile home to catch other stray cats, said Gerrard, who has been exposed to rabies three times.

Myers said up to 17 cats have lived in and around her neighborhood.

"The people that used to live two doors down had an abundance of cats, but we didn't know about it until she moved out," she said. "She didn't take any of them with her."

Gerrard has ordered neighbors to keep pets inside and have them revaccinated against the disease.

This year's outbreak of rabies is the first in 30 years, he said. Warm summers and cool winters may have attracted raccoons or other animals that carry the disease to this area from the south, Gerrard said.

Health officials are warning residents to watch for strange behavior in household pets and wildlife. An infected animal could show a number of symptoms. It could become lethargic and disoriented. Or, it could become aggressive, attempt to bite objects and people and possibly salivate, said Randy Moodispaugh, the administrator of the Harrison County Health Department.

Animals that display these behaviors need to be taken to the veterinarian immediately, he said.

People must take care when dealing with possibly infected animals.

"It's possible that an animal could be infected and be at a stage where it could transmit rabies and not be acting strangely at all," Moodispaugh said.

The disease is carried in wildlife, such as bats, raccoons and skunks, but any warm blooded animal can carry the disease, he said. Household pets get the disease after coming in contact with wildlife.

Rabies is transmitted through the saliva, Moodispaugh said. Humans can contract the disease through a bite or possibly through a scratch if there is saliva on the animal's paws, he said.

The disease is fatal to humans if it's not treated in time, he said.

"Once you have the symptoms it's too late," Moodispaugh said.