Rabies Concerns

by Christa Lollis

In 2003, state health officials saw cases of rabies become more common in East Texas. Houston and Rusk counties have had 7 confirmed cases of skunks who tested positive for rabies in February alone. "Rabid skunks do appear in East Texas. For some reason we rarely saw rabid skunks prior to that but now that it's here rabid skunks appear not uncommonly in East Texas," James Wright with the Department of State Health Services explained. That's why experts are warning East Texans to look for the signs and contact animal control if any animal's behavior seems out of the ordinary. "Salivating at the mouth and disorientation as well and maybe these animals wouldn't normally come up to you. They might come up to you or they might dig in your trash a little bit more aggressively than normal," local vet, Lori Cavitt said.

While the issues over the past few weeks have been with skunks, they aren't the only animals to worry about. Bats can carry the disease as well. Not all of them have rabies, but those that do pose a serious threat. "A human can contact rabies from a small bite from a bat. They might not even know they've been bitten. It happens a lot so even if a bat touches them or scratches them they need to contact a physician," Cavitt warned. These cases aren't common, but the Department of State Health Services says with the warmer weather comes more rabid animals. The best way to prevent the spread of rabies is to make sure all your animals are vaccinated.