El Dorado County Animal Services is reporting that a rabid skunk was found in a residential and commercial area of Pollock Pines. The skunk was found in the 2900 block of Fir Drive in Pollock Pines on the morning of Feb. 21. The skunk, which exhibited highly aggressive behavior, entered the yard of a resident and came into contact with three dogs. Animal Services was called to the scene, retrieved the skunk and sent it to the El Dorado County Public Health Laboratory for testing. Test results came back positive for rabies on Feb. 25.
Animal Services is not aware of any human contact with the rabid skunk at this time. The dogs that came into contact with the skunk are current on their vaccinations and are now being quarantined for a period of time to ensure that their health is monitored.
This is the second rabid skunk to be identified in El Dorado County in 2014. Another rabid skunk was found on Jan. 28 on Autum Way in Shingle Springs. That skunk was identified by Animal Services as part of their surveillance efforts after they received a report by a resident of an aggressive skunk. Animal Services is not aware of any human or pet contact with that skunk.
Animal Services is reminding residents that rabies is present in El Dorado County and precautions need to be taken.
“It is absolutely critical that pet owners keep their pets current on their rabies vaccinations and report all animal bites and possible rabies exposures,” said Henry Brzezinski, Animal Services chief. “We find wild animals with the rabies virus in our county each year. Without a vaccination and prompt bite reporting, pets can acquire rabies and pass it on to people and other pets. Left untreated, rabies is almost always fatal.”
The following precautions should be taken to prevent the spread of rabies:
• Maintain current rabies vaccinations for pets.
• Keep property free of garbage, stored bird seed and leftover pet food to avoid attracting wild animals.
• Do not approach or handle any unfamiliar dogs, cats or wild animals.
• Report any exposure to bats; bats are one of the most frequent carriers of rabies in California.
• Call Animal Services if you see an animal that appears to be exhibiting signs of rabies.
• Notify Animal Services immediately of any person or animal bitten or potentially exposed to a rabid or suspected rabid animal.
According to Brzezinski, rabid animals usually stop eating and drinking, and may appear to want to be left alone. After the initial onset of symptoms, the animal may become vicious or begin to show signs of paralysis (e.g., difficulty walking, staggering, confusion, etc.). Once the animal shows signs of paralysis, the disease spreads very quickly and the animal dies. It is estimated that rabies kills more than 50,000 people worldwide each year; cases are predominantly seen in underdeveloped countries that do not have rabies control programs.
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.