rabies

Toby Talbot / AP

Last week, a rabid raccoon was found in Frick Park, making it the sixth animal to test positive for the disease in Allegheny County this year.

Richard Probst / Flickr

Health officials are warning western Pennsylvania residents that two raccoons brought to a facility earlier this week have tested positive for rabies.

The Allegheny County health department says the first raccoon was found in Pittsburgh on the edge of the Morningside/Stanton Heights areas. The second was found in Mount Lebanon.

Rabies is a virus transmitted by an animal bite or scratch, and such exposures are almost always fatal when left untreated.

Residents are being warned to avoid stray animals and wildlife, even if the animals appear healthy.

technician at a veterinary clinic in east Denver.
David Zalubowski / AP

The Allegheny County Health Department says a groundhog brought to one of its facilities after a dog killed it in Mount Lebanon has tested positive for rabies.

Officials say this is the ninth rabid animal reported in the county so far this year. The others were four raccoons and four bats.

County residents are being warned to avoid stray animals and wildlife, even if the animals appear healthy. They should also have their pets vaccinated and watch for unusual behavior.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Starting this month, state dog wardens will begin canvassing across 36 Pennsylvania counties, to check with dog owners on the status of their pet’s license and vaccination history.

A Wilmerding family's exposure to rabies after taking in a pair of stray kittens prompted the Allegheny County Health Department to warn residents not to touch or take in feral animals and wildlife.

“It is well-intentioned efforts by individuals trying to help, and sometimes they unnecessarily get exposed to rabies,” chief public health nurse Sharon Silvestri said.

The family is doing fine, she said, because rabies is not a fast acting virus. The incubation period can take 30 days up to several years before it reaches the nervous system and travel to the brain, she said.

It’s a one-inch brownish block made from a compressed mixture of fishmeal and fish oil — just what might make a tasty snack for a raccoon. 

The Allegheny County Health Department is hoping these fishy squares will attract the raccoons because they are laced with a rabies vaccine. Raccoon rabies is the most prevalent type of rabies in the county and across Pennsylvania.

Starting Monday and continuing through August 16, health department workers will be spreading 230,000 baits throughout the county to reduce the spread of rabies from raccoons to other animals and humans.