Rabid skunk found in northern Smith County

Local News

SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – The Smith County Animal Control and Shelter encouraged dog owners to check their rabies vaccinations were up-to-date after a rabid skunk was found.

The shelter supervisor Amber Greene reported that a skunk tested positive on Saturday, May 1.

On Thursday, April 29 the skunk was found near Winona in the 3000 block of County Road 313 East.

Smith County Animal Control Officers alerted residents in the area by handing out letters.

“We do ask that you make sure that all of your animals are up-to-date on at least their rabies vaccinations,” the letter states. “If you see any wildlife acting in complete opposite than their normal self, please contact us. If your pets attack a sick wildlife or come in some kind of contact with wildlife, please contact us.”

When Smith County first got the call of the rabid skunk, the person who reported the skunk had already killed it, according to Taylor.

“The officer who came out was able to pick it up and brought it to a vet where they sent it off for testing in Austin and it tested positive and came back positive,” Taylor said

According to Cody Taylor, Senior Field Officer for Smith County, on average the county sees around five cases of rabid animals.

Most of the animals that test positive for rabies are usually skunks or bats and every now and then a raccoon.

If a rabid animal is called in, Smith County animal control will go out to the location and assess the animal and catch it to bring it back and then ship it off to Austin to test it.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system.

The virus is transmitted in saliva and given to people and animals by a bite from an infected animal. Once outward signs of the disease appear, rabies is nearly always fatal, according to AVMA.

AVMA said that only mammals can get rabies.

According to AVMA, animals with rabies may show the following signs:

  • Fearfulness
  • Aggression
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Staggering
  • Paralysis and seizures

Animals may also be uncharacteristically affectionate, according to AVMA.

Horses and livestock with rabies my exhibit the following:

  • Depression
  • Self-mutilation
  • Increased sensitivity to light

“[People] should care because it keeps the community safe and helps keep the numbers low if there is a suspected animal of rabies in order to prevent the spread,” Taylor said.

Taylor said that if someone sees a rabid animal, they should report it immediately to one’s local rabies authority which would be animal control or the local sheriff’s department. If a pet has been bitten, Taylor said the person would follow the same protocol by contacting their local rabies authority.

“We’ll advise them on getting a booster, a rabies booster shot for their animal and to be isolated for about 45 days,” Taylor said.

Taylor said that ultimately it is best to leave wild animals alone because people don’t know whether an animal is rabid or not.

According to the AVMA, rabies is preventable through vaccination.

Other ways prevent and control rabies include:

  • Not letting pets roam free
  • Spaying and neutering pets to decrease roaming tendencies
  • Not to leave exposed garbage or pet food outside
  • Not to keep wild animals as pets
  • Observing wild animals from a distance
  • Teaching children to not handle unfamiliar animals
  • Bat-proofing your home and other structures to prevent bats from nesting.

“If it seems too friendly it’s best to just avoid it all together,” Taylor said.

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