A beaver that attacked three people in Philadelphia tested positive for the rabies virus.
Test results were provided to the Game Commission today by the Department of Health’s Bureau of Laboratories in Exton, Chester County. Walter Cottrell, MS, DVM, Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife veterinarian, made the announcement.
The beaver carcass was taken to the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center and prepared for transfer for rabies testing at the Department of Health facility. A necropsy will be conducted at New Bolton to determine if there were other potential causes for aggression, such as injury or another type of disease.
As a precaution, Game Commission officials encourage residents to avoid the Pennypack Creek waterfront area.
On June 1, a husband and wife were fishing when a beaver bit the woman’s leg. As her husband attempted to assist her, the beaver turned and bit him in both his arms and chest. On June 2, in the area of Roosevelt Boulevard, a child was bitten by a beaver.
A search for other affected beavers is expected to be conducted by the Game Commission and United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services.
Since 2000, between 350 and 500 animals are each year are confirmed to have rabies. Health Department reports show that in 2010, 53 percent of the animal rabies cases were raccoons, followed by skunks (14 percent), cats (14 percent), bats (7 percent) and foxes (6 percent).
The last human rabies fatality in Pennsylvania was a 12-year-old boy who died in 1984.
Game Commission officials encourage residents seeing beavers or other mammals acting in a suspicious manner to report information to the agency’s Southeast Region Office at (610) 926-3136. Click here for more information.