LOWELLVILLE Damage to fox's brain prevents rabies testing

LOWELLVILLE -- The Mahoning County Board of Health won't be able to test a fox suspected of being infected with rabies and shot by a homeowner Saturday.
The Penny Lane resident discovered the fox in an unoccupied stall in his horse barn. According to police, the fox failed to respond to the homeowner and behaved strangely.
The homeowner shot the animal and sealed the carcass in a barrel until representatives from the health board could collect it Monday. The animal had been shot in the head, destroying much of its brain, and it had deteriorated, said Rick Setty, director of environmental health. "The lab needs brain tissue to do analysis."
Ideally, animals put down because they are suspected of having rabies should not be shot in the head, he said. If the health department cannot collect the animal carcass immediately, the head should be preserved intact and refrigerated. "That's problematic," Setty said, "because a lot of people don't know how, or don't want to cut the head off."
Once the lab receives a carcass to test for rabies, results are usually available within 24 hours, Setty said.
To combat rabies in wild animals, the health department will conduct one baiting project this year, down from two last year. When and where the baits will be dropped has not yet been determined.

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