Skunks test positive for rabies

June 11, 2009 10:12:44 AM PDT
Fort Bend County Animal Control has found two rabid skunks. One of the skunks was located in the unincorporated portion of Beasley and the other one in the City of Needville. "Although the incidence of rabies is low among domestic animals in the United States, with the occurrence of wildlife rabies comes the increased risk for infection of humans," said Vernon Abschneider, Animal Control director.

At this time, Fort Bend County Animal Control urges all pet owners to keep their animals updated on their vaccinations. Pet owners should immunize all dogs and cats over three months of age annually or as prescribed by their local rabies control authority. Also, all owned dogs and cats should be registered and licensed.

"It is also important to keep your animals restrained and not allow them to roam freely as this will further protect them from confrontation with wildlife," said Abschneider. He also urged pet owners not to leave food out as this could attract wildlife and rodents to their properties.

Skunks are nocturnal animals, and daytime activity usually indicates they are rabid, therefore all daytime sightings should be reported to your local Animal Control office, said Abschneider.

Rabies is a viral disease affecting the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). It is transmitted by the bite of an infected mammal. It is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.

Human rabies does occur in the United States, but is more common in other parts of the world. Humans and animals can be exposed to rabies from the saliva or brain and spinal cord tissue of a rabid animal that bites or scratches them. Wild animals, such as raccoons, bats, skunks, foxes and coyotes are more likely to carry rabies. Exposure can also occur if infected saliva or tissue gets into a fresh wound (one that has bled within 24 hours) or the eyes, nose or mouth.

Several things can be done if one is exposed to rabies. After being bitten, it is important to quickly wash the animal bite or scratch with a lot of soap and water. Then, contact your doctor immediately to receive rabies immune globulin and a series rabies vaccine to prevent infection.

The rabies immune globulin and the first vaccine should be given as soon as possible after exposure. However, if the animal can be caught and observed or tested for rabies, it is safe to wait up to 10 days before starting the series.

The early symptoms of rabies include irritability, headache, fever, itching or pain at the site of exposure.

To contact Fort Bend County Animal Control, call 281-342-1512.

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