BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Mahoning County Public Health department has issued an alert after a raccoon tested positive for rabies in northwest Boardman.

Laboratory tests confirmed the virus on Wednesday.

The signs and symptoms of rabies in animals can vary. Symptoms such as twitching, uncontrollable muscle movements, disorientation, aggression, difficulty walking or moving and paralysis are common with infected animals.

The virus is spread through direct contact with the saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal.

Mahoning County Public Health is now reminding residents to protect themselves and their pets from coming in contact with wildlife with the following tips:

  • Ensure that your pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) are current on their rabies vaccinations.
  • If your pet has had an encounter with a wild animal in the past few days, seek veterinary attention immediately.
  • Report any bite incidents to your local health department.
  • If you see a sick, lethargic, or confused animal, do not approach it. Instead, contact animal control or your local law enforcement.

“In addition, residents should refrain from feeding or playing with wildlife,” says Colton Masters, director of Environmental Health for Mahoning County Public Health. “Household pets should be fed indoors and trash can lids secured to avoid attracting wildlife onto your property.”

It is important that any person who encounters a possibly infected animal seeks medical attention immediately. Prompt treatment is the key to preventing the virus in humans.

If you find a sick or dead wild animal that is not decayed, contact your local health department:

If found in the city of Youngstown, contact the Youngstown City Health District at 330-743-3333.

If found in all other Mahoning County communities, contact Mahoning County Public Health at 330-270-2855, menu selection #2.