By Chris Collins
A sick coyote shot by a sheriff's deputy in a Kirkway Drive neighborhood Wednesday night was suffering from both rabies and canine distemper, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The diagnosis was made after a necropsy (animal autopsy) was conducted at the Oregon State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Corvallis, according to Brian Ratliff, ODFW district wildlife biologist in Baker City.
The coyote was first seen about 5:45 p.m. Wednesday wandering through the Kirkway neighborhood by Brian Addision. It was foaming at the mouth and appeared to be disoriented, Addison said.
Deputy Nathan Lay of the Baker County Sheriff's Officeshot and killed the coyote with a shotgun after it wandered into a nearby field to the east of Kirkway Drive.
"This coyote is dead," Ratliff said. "There is not a transmission concern from this coyote."
There is also no concern for infection from the saliva that was frothing from the animal's mouth and landing on the ground as the coyote traveled through the neighborhood.
Once the saliva warms up, cools down or dries up, the rabies virus is no longer a threat, Ratliff said.
Landowners in the neighborhood and Deputy Lay have been notified of the laboratory findings.
Rabies is most typically transmitted by a bite, Ratliff said. On rare occasion it also has been spread through contamination of mucous membranes such as the eyes, mouth and nose.
All dogs and cats should be vaccinated against rabies. People concerned about the health of their pets should contact their veterinarians, Ratliff said.
And people should take action if they have concern for their own health.
"If you think for some reason you've been bitten by a rabid animal, you should see your doctor," Ratliff advised.
While the coyote found to be carrying rabies is dead, there is no way of knowing how many other animals it might have come in contact with after contracting rabies, he said.
The positive rabies diagnosis has been passed on to Emilio DeBess, the state public health veterinarian.
There are seven strains of rabies, with the bat strain being the one most often found in Oregon, said Colin Gillin, the state's wildlife veterinarian.
The strain carried by the Kirkway coyote will be determined after testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gillin said.
More information about rabies can be found at the CDC website: cdc.gov.