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Rabid Deer in Chester County!

Lancaster Online is reporting about a hunter that is being treated for possible rabies after handling a deer that has been tested by the Game Commission and found to have had rabies.   Here is a bit of the story-

A Lancaster County hunter was exposed to rabies from a deer he shot on Jan. 20.

The hunter is undergoing post-exposure rabies shots after field-dressing a deer in Valley Township, Chester County.

The hunter, from Manheim, saw the deer standing in a creek, straining and growling. He initially thought the sounds came from an unseen coyote.

Knowing the behavior was odd, the hunter contacted the Pennsylvania Game Commission because he was concerned that the deer would be unsafe to eat, according to a Game Commission press release.

Brain samples from the deer were sent to a state lab and came back positive for rabies. Because the hunter had scratches on his hands and had cleaned the deer without gloves, the Game Commission considered it a case of human exposure and urged the hunter to contact a doctor, the Game Commission said.

It’s not known if the hunter did contract rabies, but the rabies shots are 100 percent effective if taken before the symptoms of rabies occur, said Dr. Walter Cottrell of Penn State, the Game Commission’s wildlife veterinarian.

In an interview, he said he wasn’t aware of any cases of a hunter contracting rabies from a deer.

Each year, the Game Commission hears a report or two of rabid deer, according to Jerry Feaser, agency spokesman. A hunter coming into contact with a rabid deer or other animal is rare but not unheard of, Feaser said.

In 2010, there were six confirmed cases of rabid deer in Pennsylvania, all in Chester County. However, in five of the cases, a rabid raccoon broke into a captive-breeding deer facility and bit the penned deer.

Cottrell said the most likely way the deer involved in the recent incident contracted rabies was from being bitten by a raccoon, as they are the most common carriers of rabies in Pennsylvania.

However, deer also can spread rabies to each other.

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