North Fork area skunk tests positive for rabies virus

Rabies hazardous to pets, humans; law requires dogs to be vaccinated

-- Madera County Department of Animal ServicesJune 20, 2013 

The Madera County Department of Animal Services announced earlier today, Thursday, June 20, that a skunk from the North Fork area tested positive for the rabies virus. Animal services was notified June 13 that a dog had killed the skunk, so the remains of the skunk were tested at the Madera County Health Department. The dog is now required to be quarantined for six months or destroyed.

This is the first positive rabies case for 2013, according to Kirsten Gross, director for animal services. In 2012 there were two positive cases of rabies in the Mountain Area. One positive test was from a bat and the other a skunk.

Rabies is well established in skunk and bat populations in California. Today, wildlife accounts for more than 90% of reported animal rabies cases.

Early symptoms of animals with rabies can be subtle. Some just appear wobbly, unsure of their surroundings, withdrawn, or just out of their normal routine like bats flying during the day or skunks walking in the area during the daylight hours.

When wild animals are acting abnormal, keep pets and family away from them and contact animal services at (559) 675-7891 or call the sheriff’s office at (559) 675-7769.

Pets frequently are the targets of attacks by rabid wild animals, and pets with rabies are a much greater hazard to human health than are rabid wild animals. There is no known cure for rabies, so prevention is the best way to protect domestic animals and the residents in the community. Since rabies is a disease that can be transmitted to humans, it is very important to review the rabies vaccination history of domestic cats, dogs and horses to assure they are current.

Per Madera County Code Section 6.04.160, all dogs are required to have a rabies vaccination when they are four months old and they must also be licensed. Cats are not required to have a rabies vaccine or license, but since they have a greater chance of exposure to bats and skunks than most other pets, it is highly recommended that cats have a current rabies vaccine. Horses are also very susceptible to the rabies virus and should be vaccinated annually or as recommended by your veterinarian.

Check with a veterinarian to assure that each pet is current on his/her rabies vaccine. If it is not current, make an appointment with a veterinarian immediately or check other options. The Eastern Madera County SPCA has two low-cost vaccination clinics each year. Call (559) 683-1266 for the next available clinic.

The Friends of Madera Animal Shelter sponsor a low cost vaccination clinic the first Saturday of each month at the Madera Fairgrounds from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. In Fresno, Hope Animal Foundation (559) 271-0209 and the Central California SPCA (559) 233-7722 also offer rabies vaccines.

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