Beware of rabies risk

Two cases of rabid animals in York County is no reason to panic. It is, however, a reason to exercise some common sense.

York County traditionally has one of the highest rates of rabies cases in the state. While even those high numbers have fallen well short of an epidemic, they do call for caution.

In an unusual incident earlier this month, a calf was found to be rabid. Two Rock Hill men who had tended to the calf now are receiving preventive treatment for rabies. This is only the fourth reported case of rabies in a cow in the state since 1989.

In another case, a fox slain after harassing a dog at a Rock Hill home was found to be rabid. The dog was quarantined, but no people came into contact with the fox.

Some say the rise in rabies cases in recent years is the result, in part, of development encroaching on natural habitat. That increases the odds that people will encounter wild animals, and, with shrinking habitat, animals themselves are more likely to come into contact with other rabid animals.

The first line of protection should be vaccinating pets and ensuring they don't run freely, especially in places they might run up against a rabid animal. It also is vital to be alert for animals that act abnormally, especially nocturnal animals that appear active in the daytime.

Although any mammal can contract and transmit rabies, the disease is particularly prevalent among foxes, skunks, raccoons and bats. But stay away from any animal, wild or domestic, that seems especially aggressive or otherwise displays unusual behavior.

While a resident shot the aforementioned fox, health and law enforcement officials advise against trying to capture or kill wild animals. And firing guns in residential areas is illegal and dangerous.

Again, try to exercise common sense.

Two new cases of rabid animals have been reported in York County in recent weeks.