El Dorado County officials are warning the public to be alert to the presence of rabies, noting that more skunks have tested positive for the disease than usual for this time of year.
So far, seven rabid skunks have been identified in 2014.
“While it isn’t unusual to find animals that test positive for rabies in California, the reporting seems early and the activity higher compared to previous years for our county,” Dr. Alicia Paris-Pombo, El Dorado County health officer, said in a written statement. “We aren’t sure if more skunks are active due to the dry winter or we are simply seeing increased reporting by the public.”
Since the beginning of the year, two rabid skunks have been found in Pollock Pines, one in Shingle Springs, three in Garden Valley and one in the Pleasant Valley area. Animal Services officials say they are not aware of any human contact with any of infected skunks.
They remind residents that rabies is endemic in El Dorado County and precautions need to be taken. Rabies is spread through the bite and saliva of an infected animal and is almost always fatal to pets and humans if not treated shortly after exposure.
To prevent the spread of rabies, people are advised to:
• Maintain current rabies vaccinations for dogs, cats and livestock.
• Keep property free of garbage, stored bird seed and leftover pet food to avoid attracting wild animals, and keep pet doors closed at night to prevent wild animals from entering the home.
• Do not approach, pick up, feed of handle unfamiliar dogs, cats or wild animals.
• Do not approach an animal that appears to be sick or acting aggressively. Report it to Animal Services.
• Do not handle any dead animal with your bare hands.
• Call Animal Services if you see an animal that exhibits signs of rabies, such as staggering, confusion or aggressive behavior.
• Notify Animal Services immediately if any person or domestic pet is bitten or potentially exposed to a rabid or suspected rabid animal.
• Report any exposure to bats, which are among the most frequent carriers of rabies in California.
For more information, see the Animal Services website, or call (530) 621-5795 in the Placerville area or (530) 573-7925 in South Lake Tahoe.
Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.