ROCK — A dog suspected of having rabies in the Cabin Branch Road section of Rock has been put down, health officials said Wednesday. However, a Chihuahua that was running around with the mixed breed in question has not yet been located.

“The dog that was put down that we thought may have been rabid was a medium-sized dog with short brown hair,” Andrew Whittaker, a sanitarian with the Mercer County Health Department, said. “And with that dog there was a Chihuahua dog running around with it. The dog was in that community up until (November) 13th. We cannot locate an owner. As of right now, we are assuming it is a stray. I have went to the area and knocked on doors.”

Whittaker said the mixed breed dog was acting very strange and exhibited signs of rabies, including staggering and aggressive behavior. He said the dog was located, and put down.

But the Chihuahua was already gone when the mixed breed was located. The Chihuahua had short brown hair, and was kind of “tagging along” with the mixed breed that may have been rabid, Whittaker said.

Whittaker said the test results were sent off Monday, and came back Wednesday.

“We got the test results back this morning, and the animal came back not testable,” Whittaker said. “The reason it came back non testable is because the brain stem in the animal had been damaged somehow. Therefore we don’t know exactly if it was rabid or not. So we are just trying to get out there and make the public aware of it, and some of the proactive things they can do to deter any animals that may be rabid.”

Whittaker said anyone who may have come in contact with the mixed breed or the Chihuahua, is urged to contact the health department immediately at 304-324-8367.

Rabies is a deadly disease. It is fatal if not treated quickly.

The virus can be transmitted to humans through animal bites, some scratches and by getting saliva or brain tissue into an open wound or in the eyes, nose or mouth.

Whittaker said residents should take precautions, including making sure that their pets are vaccinated against rabies, as well as keeping their animals inside to help limit their contact with other animals. He said pet owners also should bring their animal’s food inside so that other animals are not attracted to the area.

“Today I’ve spent the day down in that area knocking on doors and talking to people that live in that area to see if they have seen the dog or anything like that,” Whittaker said.

Whittaker said anyone with animals in the area that begin to exhibit signs of rabies, including acting aggressively, staggering or exhibiting odd behavior, should contact the health department immediately.

“We don’t want anyone to panic from this,” Whittaker said. “We are just trying to make the public aware of it and to take preventive measures.”

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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