Another skunk, shot in Peru on Nov. 6, tested positive for rabies according to local public health officials.
“The rabid skunk was shot by a resident on the Jabez Allen Road. The latest rabid animal was found about 6 miles north of the Village of Keeseville where several rabid animals were recently confirmed,” Principal Sanitarian at the Clinton County Health Department Rita Mitchell said.
This recent positive brings the total confirmed rabid animals in Clinton County to six for the year. Rabid animals found this year have included: one bat, one raccoon and four other skunks.
Mitchell said it is unclear if there is an increase rate of rabies in the area or if it is because more animals are being tested by the USDA Wildlife Services through their bait and enhanced surveillance. Through this program they are testing more such as road kill.
“Normally these animals wouldn’t be tested unless they had come in contact with a domestic animal or human,” Mitchell said. “Now there is an extra amount of testing and we are looking harder for rabid animals.”
Mark Corara, Supervisory Wildlife Biologist with the USDA Wildlife Services, that
Corara said the amount of vaccine drops throughout the area hasn’t changed. But since the organization started dropping a new form of the vaccine in August, more data collection has been taking place.
Many factors could contribute to the increased amount of rabies-infected animals in the area, including; weather, populations density, and amount of contact infected animals have with other animals.
Rabies is a deadly viral disease that affects the nervous system and is 100 percent fatal once symptoms develop. All mammals, including humans, are susceptible to rabies. Rabies is transmitted from the saliva of an infected animal, usually by a bite.
Signs of rabies in an animal include aggressive behavior, paralysis, lethargy or a wild animal acting unafraid of people.
The skunk found in Peru had been in someone’s yard and wasn’t leaving the yard when shooed away like another animal might Mitchell said.
In another recent rabies incident on Oct. 3 a rabid skunk charged under a fence and attacked three dogs. As a result of the attack one of the dogs, who hadn’t had updated rabies vaccination, was put down.
“Not all animals infected with rabies will be aggressive or foaming at the mouth,” Mitchell said. “It can takes days after an animal becomes infected to show any signs of rabies, that’s why it’s very important to report any wild animal bites or suspicious animal activity.”
In a press release by the Clinton County Health Department, wild animals testing positive for rabies most frequently in NY State are: raccoons, skunks and bats. In the Clinton County area, the cat is the domestic animal most likely to be infected with rabies. Last year in NY State, thirty-nine cats were confirmed rabid, along with one dog, seven cattle and one goat. So far in 2012, eighteen cats have tested positive for rabies statewide along with five cattle, one goat and one horse.
The health department warns if a person is exposed to rabies, they must receive a series of shots to prevent the disease. Residents should take the following steps to protect themselves and their pets against rabies:
- Have pets vaccinated against rabies immediately. New York State law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets be vaccinated against rabies by 4 months of age. Vaccination is also recommended for livestock with frequent human contact.
- Report all animal bites to your local health department. It is very important that follow up is done on the biting animal to protect the health of the person bitten. If the biting animal is not available, the person bitten may need rabies vaccinations to prevent the disease.
- Report contact with bats, including finding the bat in the same room with a sleeping person, to your local health department.
- Spaying and neutering your pets decreases undesirable behavior, like aggression and roaming and reduces the number of unwanted animals that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.
- Secure all garbage in containers that will prevent access by wild animals.
- Do not feed wildlife or stray animals and discourage them from seeking food near your home. Feed pets indoors, leaving food outside will attract strays or wildlife.
- Use caution around wild animals especially skunks and raccoons. Talk to children now about not approaching wildlife, and to immediately tell a parent or adult if they see a wild animal.
- Puppies, kittens and other small pets should not be left outside alone (even in a fenced area)
- If your pet fights with a wild animal, put gloves on before you handle the pet. Call your veterinarian or the local health department for advice.
- If an unvaccinated pet comes in contact with a rabid or suspected rabid animal, the pet must be quarantined for six months or euthanized.
- Vaccinated pets that come in contact with a rabid or suspected rabid animal must be given a booster rabies vaccination within five days of the contact.
For more information on rabies, contact the Clinton County Health Department of 565-4870.