Lufkin skunk tests positive for rabies

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - LUFKIN, Texas (Press release) - City of Lufkin Animal Control personnel have confirmed that a skunk found deceased in a Lufkin neighborhood was infected with rabies.

On Saturday, November 27, 2010, a skunk entered into the fenced yard of a residence located in the 1200 block of Reen Drive in Lufkin.  When the resident heard her dogs barking and saw the dogs chasing the skunk through the yard, she quickly secured them inside of the house. The following day, the deceased skunk was found in the yard.  Although the dogs' rabies vaccines are current and the resident believes no physical contact occurred between the dogs and the skunk, the dogs received a booster vaccine following the incident.

City of Lufkin Animal Control personnel retrieved the skunk and testing at the Department of State Health Services Laboratory in Austin found the skunk to be infected with rabies.

According to Rhonda McLendon, Director of City of Lufkin Animal Control, Angelina County typically sees two to three rabies cases each year but between 2004 and 2009, all cases have involved bats.  Director McLendon stated; "this is the first Angelina County skunk to test positive for rabies since 2003, when we had fourteen rabies-positive skunk cases".

Even though more than a decade has elapsed since Angelina County has seen a rabies-positive dog or cat, all mammals, including humans, are capable of contracting this deadly disease.

Rabies is a virus that affects the central nervous system. The virus is spread through the saliva of infected animals, so humans and animals can be infected through the bite of a rabid animal or by the saliva from such an animal contacting their mucous membranes or an open wound. Such contact with a rabid animal can only be treated through a series of shots administered by a healthcare professional.

Lufkin Police Department spokesman Detective JB Smith said; "the discovery of one rabid skunk is not cause for alarm, but it highlights the importance of ensuring that our dogs' and cats' rabies vaccinations are up to date. Pet vaccination is the most effective means of protecting your pet and your family from this disease."

Anyone that is bitten by a domestic animal or bitten or scratched by a wild animal must immediately contact a healthcare professional for a rabies risk assessment instead of waiting for symptoms to develop; once symptoms are present, the virus may be untreatable.

All animal bites must be reported to local animal control authorities in order that the biting animal can be quarantined or tested for rabies.

Signs of rabies in animals include abnormal behavior such as nocturnal animals being active during the day, approaching humans or other animals, difficulty with movement, and unusual sounds.

Skunks and other wildlife should not be handled.  Healthy animals usually avoid human contact; a wild animal that allows you to approach or handle it is likely ill or injured and will bite in self-defense. Suspicious animal activity and suspected rabid animals should be reported immediately to local animal control authorities.  Angelina County Animal Control can be reached by calling (936) 639-8763, and City of Lufkin Animal Control can be reached by calling (936) 633-0218.

City of Lufkin Animal Control offers these tips concerning exposure to rabies:

  • Do not feed wild animals – this just brings them closer to your family.
  • Teach children to stay away from wild or deceased animals.
  • Do not allow pets to roam freely, as free-roaming increases their chance of exposure without your knowledge.
  • Keep your pet's rabies vaccination current.
  • Immediately contact a veterinarian if your pet is bitten or scratched by a wild animal.
  • People with possible rabies exposure should consult with a physician without delay.
  • Report all animal bites to animal control authorities; the biting animal must be tested for rabies.