Discovery of rabid skunks prompts reminders to vaccinate pets

Posted Tuesday, Jun. 03, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

About rabies and prevention

• Rabies symptoms include crusty eyes and noses, disorientation and staggering, excessive salivation and aggressive behavior. Wild animals with rabies may seem aggressive, or friendly and tame.

• In addition to vaccinating pets, which is required by city ordinance, North Richland Hills urges residents to restrain pets to prevent contact with wild animals. If a pet is bitten, it should be taken to a veterinarian immediately, Peters said.

• Do not feed wild animals or keep them as pets, and don’t approach wild animals or dogs and cats that you don’t know.

• Don’t touch sick or injured animals. Report them to the NRH Animal Adoption and Rescue Center at 817-427-6570.

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City officials are urging residents to vaccinate pets because three skunks in the northwestern part of the city have tested positive for rabies since early May.

The skunks were found in the 7400 block of Continental Trail in early May; the 7900 block of Woodland Drive on May 28; and the 7800 block of Ember Oaks Drive on May 29, city spokeswoman Mary Peters said in a news release.

Three skunks also tested positive this year in Fort Worth — one in February and two in April — said Diane Covey, a code enforcement officer. Only two rabid skunks were found in Fort Worth in 2013, down from five in 2012, Covey said.

The Texas Department of State Health Service shows 11 rabies-positive skunks in Tarrant County from Jan. 18 through April 28. Four were found in Wise County during the same period. Four skunks and one horse tested rabies-positive in Parker County; 12 skunks and one dog in Hood County; five skunks and one raccoon in Johnson County; and 10 skunks in Denton County.

Christine Mann, a DSHS spokeswoman, said she didn’t sense that the numbers are trending up.

“So far this year [January through April] there were 11 cases of rabies in Tarrant County,” Mann said in an email. “In the same time period last year there were 13 cases. As the weather warms up and more people are outdoors, there’s a greater chance they might come in contact with wildlife.”

The state health department recommends staying away from wild animals and any animals that are acting strangely, Mann said.

“The most effective way to reduce exposure to rabies is to vaccinate your pets,” she said.

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