Skip to content
Press Release

Raccoon found on property in Mon & Preston counties tests positive for rabies

Jun. 28, 2024

Raccoon found on property in Mon & Preston counties tests positive for rabies

MORGANTOWN, WV — Monongalia County is sharing its first rabies case of 2024 with Preston County after a rabid raccoon was found on property in both counties off Gladesville Road in Independence.
The property owner found the raccoon fighting with a barn cat. The property owner killed the raccoon and it was sent to the state Office of Laboratory Services in South Charleston.
“We received word late Thursday afternoon that the raccoon was indeed positive for rabies,” said Todd Powroznik, program manager of MCHD Environmental Health.
In 2023, Monongalia County had four of West Virginia’s 46 reported cases of rabies, according to the annual West Virginia Animal Rabies Surveillance Report sent out by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
Rabies was reported in 18 of the state’s 55 counties. Four was the highest number of cases in any of the counties, and that number was also reported in Greenbrier, Hampshire and Mineral counties.
Preston County had one and Marion, which also borders Monongalia, also reported one case.
Rabies is a viral disease that can be found in all mammals. It is deadly in people if medical care is not received before symptoms start, according to information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website ( Rabies is spread to humans and pets primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal.
First rabies symptoms may feel like the flu, including weakness or discomfort, fever or headache, the CDC notes. Usually, severe disease appears within two weeks of the first symptoms, when the rabies virus causes brain dysfunction that can include anxiety, confusion, agitation and hallucinations.
It’s been nearly a year since rabies was found in a cat colony off Green Bag Road in early July 2023 in an incident that received widespread attention. A month later, a bat found in a home in southern Monongalia County also tested positive for rabies.
Monongalia County Health Department staffers will be going out to the area where the most recent case was found next week in order to spread the word among residents and business owners that a rabid raccoon was found nearby.
“Individuals living in the area should take extra precautions to protect their families and pets,” said health officer Dr. Brian H. Huggins of Monongalia County Health Department.
As per West Virginia laws, dogs and cats must be kept up to date on their rabies vaccines. If an unvaccinated pet has an encounter with a rabid animal, euthanasia is usually recommended.
“Vaccinating your pets also helps to keep you and your family safe, as well as the community,” Powroznik said. “We also recommend spaying and neutering pets in order to keep the number of strays low.”
In past instances, family members who have interacted with their pets after they have been in a fight with a rabid animal have been strongly encouraged to go to a hospital for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis treatment.
Monongalia County Health Department monitors rabies in conjunction with other agencies in the region, and is also coordinating with Preston County Health Department in this case. Learn more at or call MCHD at 304-598-5100 or Preston County Health Department at 304-329-0096 if you have concerns about a potential case of rabies.
Also, annually at the end of August, MCHD works with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to distribute oral rabies vaccine baits in the area.
“USDA APHIS drops ORV baits from aircraft in more rural areas, while our sanitarians walk around parks, the rail-trail and wooded areas to distribute the rabies baits by hand,” Powroznik said.





Follow Us

Monongalia County Health Department

© 2024 - Monongalia County Health Department.
Website Design + Development: Mind Merge Design