Crime - Sacto 911

Precautions urged after rabid skunks found in El Dorado County

El Dorado County Animal Services officials are advising residents to take precautions after a rabid skunk was found in a populated area of Pollock Pines.

This is the second rabid skunk identified in the county this year. The first was found Jan. 28 on Autumn Way in Shingle Springs.

In the most recent incident, a skunk was found the morning of Feb. 21 in the 2900 block of Fir Drive in Pollock Pines. The skunk, which exhibited aggressive behavior, entered a resident’s yard and came into contact with three dogs, according to a county news release. Animal Services officers were called to the site and retrieved the skunk, which was sent to the El Dorado County Health Department for testing. Test results came back positive for rabies Tuesday.

Officials said they were not aware of any human contact with the skunk. The dogs that came in contact with the skunk were current on the rabies vaccinations and are being quarantined for a period of time to monitor their health.

The skunk in Shingle Springs was identified by Animal Services as part of the agency’s surveillance efforts after a resident reported an aggressive skunk. Officials said they are not aware of any human or pet contact with that skunk.

Officials say the two incidents are a reminder that rabies is present in El Dorado County and precautions need to be taken.

“It is absolutely critical that pet owners keep their pets current on their rabies vaccinations and reprot all animal bites and possible rabies exposures,” Henry Brzezinski, Animal Services chief, said in a written statement. “We find wild animals with the rabies virus in our county each year. Without a vaccination and prompt bite reporting, pets can acquire rabies and pass it on to people and other pets. Left untreated, rabies is almost always fatal.”

To prevent the spread of rabies, Animal Services officials recommend several precautions:

• Maintain current rabies vaccinations for pets.

• Keep property free of garbage, stored bird seed and leftover pet food to avoid attracting wild animals.

• Do not approach or handle any unfamiliar dogs, cats or wild animals.

• Report any exposure to bats, which are one of the most frequent carriers of rabies in California.

• Call Animal Services immediately if any person or animal is bitten or potentially exposed to a rabid or suspected rabid animal.

Brazezinski said rabid animals usually stop eating and drinking, and may appear to want to be left alone. After the initial onset of symptoms, the animal may become vicious or begin to show signs of paralysis, such as difficulty walking, staggering and confusion. Once the animal shows signs of paralysis, the disease spreads quickly and the animal dies.

For additional information about rabies, including prevention tips, see the Animal Services website. To contact Animal Services staff members, call (530) 621-5795 in the Placerville area or (530) 573-7925 in South Lake Tahoe.