By JOE GORMAN
Residents are being urged to exercise caution around wildlife after a second rabid raccoon in Mahoning County was confirmed within a month.
Patricia Sweeney, the county’s District Board of Health commissioner, said Thursday there is no cause for alarm, and the occurrence of rabies in raccoons is not rare.
“We have had this before,” Sweeney said.
She said there are no known exposures to animals or humans in this case.
The other rabid raccoon was found about a month ago in Canfield Township, Sweeney said. The more recent raccoon was found in the vicinity of Cherry Hill Place in Boardman last weekend.
Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture did preliminary tests on the raccoon and found it had rabies. Those specimens were then sent to the Centers For Disease Control, which confirmed the presence of rabies.
Tessie Pollock, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Health, said in 2012 only two rabid raccoons were found in the state: one in Mahoning County and one in Trumbull County.
She said the eastern part of the state that borders with Pennsylvania has been identified as a trouble spot for rabid raccoons because those raccoons were crossing over the border into Ohio, and authorities realized they were moving east. Every year in the fall an oral vaccine is dropped from airplanes along the border to try and stop spread of rabid raccoons from the Keystone State.
“It’s a barrier, basically,” Pollock said.
In 2012, the state had 40 cases of wild animals having rabies. The remaining 38 cases involved bats. Hamilton County had the most of those cases with seven. Mahoning and Columbiana each had one case with bats and Trumbull County had none, according to statistics from the state board of health.
Sweeney said anyone who finds an animal acting suspiciously should contact the local health department, and Youngstown residents should contact the city health district.