Officials in neighboring Johnson County, TN have confirmed a case of rabies, the first case since 2009.
A raccoon discovered in the Trade community tested positive for raccoon variant rabies, according to The Tomahawk newspaper. An official with the Animal Control Office tells the paper that Johnson County residents should not be afraid , but should take action to prevent an outbreak from occurring.
Stacy Shoemake, Chief Animal Control Officer in Watauga County, tells WataugaRoads.com that locally animal control officials have not received any calls from the areas that border Tennessee. Officer Shoemake reminds everyone to make sure your pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations and to report any wildlife that might be acting strange during the daytime. If residents have any questions or need to report an animal they can reach the office at 828-262-1672.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the CDC each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.