June 27, 2014
Contact: Mitchell Kushner, MD, City Health Officer, 562.570.4047
For immediate release
Skunk in Long Beach Tests Positive for Rabies;
First Rabid Skunk in L.A. County since 1979;
Residents Reminded to Vaccinate Pets, Avoid Wild Animals
The City of Long Beach Health Officer reminds residents to vaccinate their pets and avoid contact with wild animals following confirmation of a case of rabies. The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (LBDHHS) confirmed a skunk found on Thursday, June 26, 2014 in the 90815 area of Long Beach tested positive for rabies. The person who notified authorities about the skunk handled the situation correctly; she made no attempt to pick up or capture the animal, and immediately called Long Beach Animal Care Services (ACS) officials to remove the skunk after she noticed erratic behavior by the animal. The skunk was taken by ACS officers to the LBDHHS Public Health Laboratory for testing. At this time, officials are not aware of any human contact with the skunk.
While skunks in the area have tested positive for rabies in past years, this is the first confirmed case of rabies for a skunk in Los Angeles County since 1979. Further testing is being done at the State lab to determine the strain of rabies. “Residents need to avoid any contact with wildlife and ensure their domestic pets are vaccinated for rabies to avoid the disease being passed to humans,” says Dr. Kushner.
Rabies is a virus that causes a severe brain infection in mammals and humans that is nearly 100 percent fatal once symptoms appear. Infection, however, can be effectively prevented with prompt medical treatment. Any mammal can be infected with rabies. In California, the disease is most commonly found in bats, skunks, and foxes. Humans can become infected through bites from an infected animal, or through contact with the saliva of an infected animal.
Skunks are naturally nocturnal animals; however, it’s not unusual to see an urban skunk during daylight hours. Symptoms of rabid skunks include crusty eyes and noses, disorientation, and staggering. Other signs of rabies include excessive salivation and aggressive behavior.
The Health Department and Animal Care Services share the following tips to help prevent rabies:
· Vaccinate your dogs and cats. Keeping your pets vaccinated protects you and them; unvaccinated pets that come into contact with a rabid skunk, bat, or other animal may need to be euthanized or quarantined for up to six months
· Restrain your pets; do not allow them to roam. Keep dogs on a leash when outside of your property.
· Avoid contact with wild animals and with dogs and cats you do not know. Do not try to hand-feed wild animals and do not keep them as pets.
· Do not touch sick or injured animals. Report sick or injured animals to Animal Care Services at 562-570-7387.
- Teach children to never touch unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they seem friendly.
- Wash any wound from an animal bite thoroughly with soap and water; seek medical attention immediately.
For more information on rabies, call Long Beach Animal Care Services at 562-570-7387 or visit www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies.
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