El Dorado County Animal Services has identified several more rabid skunks over the past few weeks, bringing the total number to seven for 2014.
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“We want to provide education and public awareness regarding the presence of rabies in our community,” said Dr. Alicia Paris-Pombo, El Dorado County Health officer. “While it isn’t unusual to find animals that test positive for rabies in California, the reporting seems early and the activity higher compared to previous years for our county. We aren’t sure if more skunks are active due to the dry winter or we are simply seeing increased reporting by the public.”
According to Dr. Paris, the rabid animals were identified in several areas of the county. Since the beginning of this year, two rabid skunks were found in Pollock Pines, one in Shingle Springs, three in Garden Valley and one in the Pleasant Valley area. Animal Services is not aware of any human contact with any of the skunks.
Rabies activity has varied from year to year in El Dorado County. Confirmed reports of rabid animals have included the following: in 2013, one bat and one skunk; in 2012, one bat and five skunks; in 2011, three bats and three skunks; in 2010, two bats and five skunks; in 2009, two bats, two skunks and two foxes. Historically, most of the rabid animals have been identified on the West Slope of the county, with smaller numbers reported in the South Lake Tahoe area.
Animal Services is reminding residents that rabies is endemic in El Dorado County and precautions need to be taken.
“Our residents are our first line of defense against rabies. It is very important that domestic pets remain current on their rabies vaccinations and any animal bite reported,” said Henry Brzezinski, El Dorado County Animal Services chief. Rabies is spread through the bite and saliva of an infected animal and is almost always fatal to pets and humans if not treated shortly after exposure.
The following precautions should be taken to prevent the spread of rabies:
• Maintain current rabies vaccinations for dogs, cats and livestock.
• Keep property free of garbage, stored bird seed and left over pet food to avoid attracting wild animals; keep pet doors closed at night to avoid entry of wild animals into the home.
• Do not approach, pick up, feed or handle unfamiliar dogs, cats or wild animals.
• Do not approach an animal that appears to be sick or is acting aggressively; report it to Animal Services.
• Do not handle any dead animal with your bare hands.
• Call Animal Services if you see an animal that exhibits signs of rabies (such as staggering, confusion and/or aggressive behavior).
• Notify Animal Services immediately of any person or domestic pet that is bitten or potentially exposed to a rabid or suspected rabid animal.
• Report any exposure to bats; bats are one of the most frequent carriers of rabies in California.
Additional information about rabies, including prevention tips, can be found on the Animal Services Website at edcgov.us/animalservices. Animal Services staff can be reached at 530-621-5795 in the Placerville area or at 530-573-7925 in South Lake Tahoe.